Outbreak of shigellosis in St. Louis not in the Heartland

Outbreak of shigellosis in St. Louis not in the Heartland
By: Crystal Britt
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - A nasty bacterial illness is spreading like wildfire and it's hitting a little too close to home. So far 60 St. Louis area daycares are affected, with about 500 cases of Shigellosis reported. The illness can cause severe diarrhea, fever, cramps, and vomiting. Very few cases have been reported in Southeast Missouri, Western Kentucky, and Southern Illinois. In fact, just one case of Shigellosis has been reported in Cape Girardeau County since January. The outbreaks are mostly at daycares, giving parents one more thing to think about as they drop the kids off at the front door.
Try as they may, kids will still get sick.  "We are always battling illness", says Christina Gonzales, Director of A Step At A Time Preschool. Lucky for "A Step at a Time" in Cape Girardeau, so far Shigellosis is not a concern. No one there even recognized the name.  "I've never heard of it before--period", said Gonzales.
About 18,000 cases of Shigellosis are reported every year in the U.S. It's a nasty bacteria that's highly contagious.  "There's no vaccine against Shigella, but simple hand washing practices, *good* hand washing practices with soap and water is the best way to prevent Shigella", said RN Carol Jordan. Health experts say small children aren't the best hand washing, and that's likely the reason it's such a problem at so many St. Louis daycares. That's why workers at many local daycares spend most of their time cleaning, sanitizing, and making sure the kids learn how to properly wash.
If any kids at your child's daycare do get Shigellosis, the health department will be notified, and so will you. Most daycares also have policies: if your kid's sick keep them home. "As long as you keep with the policies...sending them home, them it will help to keep it from spreading to other children", said Gonzales.