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Health Bulletin Special Edition Shigella

Public Health Alert—Shigella Outbreak
What is Shigella?

Shigella is a bacteria or germ that can cause diarrhea (loose, watery bowel movements), stomach cramps, fever and sometimes vomiting.

Shigella is on the rise in Philadelphia. Many people across the city are getting sick from this germ. Most of the people who are getting Shigella are young children, especially children who go to day care centers. Family members of the children are also getting sick.

Shigella spreads easily from person to person. Only a few germs can make people sick. The germ is passed in the stool by people who are sick, and is usually spread to others from their hands. People can get the germ on their hands when:

  • using the bathroom
  • changing diapers
  • helping a child use the toilet

When infected persons do not wash their hands well, the germ spreads. It can get onto surfaces that other people touch, or get into food or drink that sick people prepare.

What can you do to prevent Shigella?

Wash your hands! Washing your hands is the best way to prevent Shigella. It also helps stop many other germs that cause diseases.

Wash your hands:

  • After you use the bathroom
  • After changing diapers
  • Before you eat or drink
  • Before making and serving food

Help children to wash their hands:

  • After they use the bathroom
  • Before they eat or drink

Keep your children home if they have diarrhea. Keep your child home from school or day care if they have diarrhea, and don’t go to work if you are sick. This will help stop the spread of the germ to others.

See your health care provider if your child has diarrhea, especially if it is bloody, that lasts for more than 3 days, or if he or she seems dehydrated.