MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Hey kids – wash your hands.

State health workers in Miami-Dade are urging parents, schools and day care centers to take precautionary measures after they noted an increase in the number of Shigellosis cases recently.

Since January 1, 2014, the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County has investigated over 100 confirmed cases of shigellosis surpassing the last three year average of 100 cases. The majority of the reported cases are in children aged 1 through 9.

The Shigella bacteria can infect the digestive tract and cause a wide range of symptoms from cramping and nausea to vomiting and diarrhea (which may be bloody or watery). It’s highly contagious and spreads through person to person contact.

Symptoms may last from 48 to 72 hours. School aged children and children in daycare should be taken out of school until symptoms have ceased and laboratory cultures test negative.

Shigellosis has a cyclic pattern with large community outbreaks, frequently associated with child care settings. In the last decade, Miami-Dade County has experienced increased activity in 2003 and 2005.

Parents of children with symptoms of Shigellosis should contact their doctor for a diagnosis.

Sometimes Shigellosis goes away on its own; in other cases antibiotics can shorten the course of the illness.

Careful attention to hand washing is the single most important measure to stop the spread of the Shigella bacteria.

Hand washing among children should be frequent and supervised by an adult, especially in child care centers and homes with children who have not been fully toilet-trained. Everyone who changes a child’s diaper should immediately wash the hands of both the changer and the child carefully with soap and warm water

Proper hand washing consists of lathering hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Be sure to rinse the palms, backs of hands, between fingers, under fingernails and around wrists.


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