MADISON (WKOW) -- Local health officials are making the public aware of a small outbreak of the shigella infection.
Officials say shigella infections are the result of the bacteria passing from improperly washed hands of one person to the mouth of another person, often through handling contaminated objects or food. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps starting a day or two after exposure to the bacteria.
Public Health - Madison and Dane County (PHMDC) says there have been 17 cases of shigella infection occurring between September 20 and October 30. In 2011, there were only 19 cases of shigella infection reported in Dane County.
Health officials say laboratory analysis of the bacteria suggests that 12 of these cases were caused by bacteria that were genetically similar, which suggests that the cases are related in some way. All but three of the cases live in Madison (the north-east side, the south side). The others are in Belleville, Monona and Stoughton. It is likely that there are more unreported cases in the area.
Officials say people with shigellosis are rarely hospitalized; however, a severe infection with high fever may be associated with seizures in children less than two years old. Some people who are infected may have no symptoms at all, but may still be able to pass the Shigella bacteria to others.
The CDC has six simple steps to help prevent and avoid this uncomfortable, inconvenient and occasionally serious illness.
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