Sixteen cases of the diarrheal disease shigellosis have been reported at a Sedgwick County day care this year.
That number compares to 23 cases in all of 2016 in the county.
In recent years, the county has seen between four and 24 cases of the highly contagious disease annually, according to Chris Steward, health protection director of Sedgwick County.
Steward would not release the name of the day care but said all 16 cases originated there. The most recent case was reported last week.
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The disease is transmitted through exposure to even small amounts of fecal matter.
“We report information on reportable diseases as required for public health prevention, and the general public just needs to know the organism is in a day care facility and can spread,” she said. “It can happen in other facilities with children as well.”
A request to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for the reports from the county was not returned Wednesday afternoon.
Symptoms of shigellosis include diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms last five to seven days.
Antibiotics can be useful for reducing symptoms for severe cases, although the shigella bacteria are often resistant to antibiotics.
Nationwide, about 500,000 people get shigellosis each year.
“The prevention for this disease is strict hand washing,” Steward said. “That can prevent a lot of diseases, but what the public needs to know is making sure you wash your hands after you use the restroom, after you diaper a child, before you eat and after you eat are all good action tips to stop shigellosis.”
Children with shigellosis cannot return to day care or school until they have had two negative stool cultures after stopping any antibiotic use.