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Health Department: Rowan school has shigellosis outbreak

The Rowan County Health Department is investigating an apparent outbreak of shigellosis at Koontz Elementary School.
Shigellosis is an infectious stomach illness caused by bacteria called shigella. The bacteria can spread quickly because it only takes a small amount to make someone sick, the Health Department said in a letter to Koontz parents.
Symptoms are watery, often bloody, stool, fever and stomach cramps. They start a day or two after the infected person is exposed to the bacteria. The illness usually goes away in five to seven days.
Students who have been sick with these symptoms should see a doctor, stay home and return to school no sooner than 48 hours after the symptoms stop, the Health Department says. Contact a doctor
In addition to keeping children home who are ill, the Health Department recommends teaching them to practice good handwashing with soap and warm water, after using the bathroom and before eating. Washing under the fingernails is important.
Koontz is working with the county’s environmental health department to clean and sanitize all bathrooms and communal areas, according to the letter from the Health Department.
It wasn’t clear this evening whether other schools in the Rowan-Salisbury system had seen similar outbreaks.
Last week, health officials in Cabarrus County said 64 people had reported symptoms and 21 had confirmed with shigellosis. The rest didn’t have lab results to confirm whether they had the illness.
In Cabarrus, the illness had first been connected to specific schools and institutions but spread rapidly community-wide.
Other measures recommended by the Health Department to help prevent the spread of shigellosis:
• Wash hands before preparing foods or beverages, and after changing diapers.
• Supervise handwashing of toddlers and young children after they use the toilet.
• Do not prepare food for others while ill with diarrhea.
• Avoid swallowing water from ponds, lakes or untreated pools.
• For those with children in diapers, dispose of soiled diapers properly and disinfect diaper-changing areas after using them.

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