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Home News Shigellosis in Three Southeast New Mexico Counties
David Morgan
575-528-5197 Office
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Shigellosis in Three Southeast New Mexico Counties

March 21, 2017 - Emerging Infections - Information

Shigellosis is an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella. This Centers for Disease Control web page includes details about Shigella (what it is, prevention and control, publications, data, and statistics). The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) continues its investigation of a 10-month increase in cases of Shigella sonnei (a.k.a., Shigella or Shigellosis) infections in Lea, Chaves, and Eddy counties.

Since May 2016, 226 confirmed and epidemiologically-linked cases have been identified in the southeastern counties. The cases, again, are largely among preschool and school-aged children.

“Shigellosis is hard to control once it’s entrenched in a community,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Lynn Gallagher. “Habits have to change so Shigellosis can be prevented.”

NMDOH encourages parents to, where possible, not send their children to daycare or school when they are sick as it spreads shigellosis and other illnesses to other children and their families.

Shigellosis is a bacterial disease that causes diarrhea, fever, nausea, and sometimes vomiting, cramps, and toxemia (blood poisoning from toxins produced by the bacteria). Shigella is extremely contagious. An infected person can shed the bacteria in their stool when they have diarrhea and up to a month after the diarrhea has gone away. Shigella can be spread in the following ways:

  • Infected persons can spread Shigella by not washing their hands after going to the bathroom and then handling food that other people will eat.
  • Caretakers can become infected by changing the diaper of an infected child or caring for an infected person. The caretaker’s hands may get some small amount of stool and bacteria on their hands, and without proper hand hygiene, spread the bacteria to everything they touch afterwards (including their mouths).
  • Swallowing recreational water (for example a splash pad, pool, and/or lake) that was contaminated by infected fecal matter.

If you think your child may have shigellosis, please take your child to their healthcare provider to be tested and treated.

You can decrease your chance of coming into contact with Shigella by doing the following:

  • Washing your hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing and/or eating food.
  • Promptly cleaning possible contaminated surfaces with household chlorine bleach-based cleaners.
  • Washing soiled clothing and linens.
  • Avoiding food or water from sources that may be contaminated.
  • Not sending sick children to school, daycare, or local pool and splash pads if they have persistent diarrhea.

Additional information is available on the Shigellosis web page.

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Shigelosis en Tres Condados del Sureste de Nuevo México