Shigella outbreak being investigated

Source of Article:


BY TONYA SHIPLEY Staff Writer August 1, 2009

ZANESVILLE --The Zanesville-Muskingum County Health Department is continuing to wait on results from testing of individuals who may have transmitted shigella.

Health officials are investigating a shigella outbreak after two children who attend Rufus Putnam Daycare tested positive for the infectious disease. One is a 2-year-old girl and the other is a 3-year-old girl.

"We've had two positive cultures of shigella bacteria. Both are children at a day-care center. There are 79 children at the center so we got concerned," said Vicki Whitacre, medical director of the health department.

This however, does not mean that the center is the source of the infection.

Shigella is an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria. It is most commonly the result of the bacteria being passed from stool or dirty fingers to another person's mouth. It can be spread as a food-borne illness.

Common symptoms include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps starting a day or two after exposure. The diarrhea is often bloody. Shigellosis usually ends in five to seven days.

Whitacre said both children went to doctors and, once the culture tested positive, the health department was made aware of it. The first case was reported July 17, but because of a difficulty in connecting with the child's parents, the connection of the day-care center was not immediately known.

According to Whitacre, the second report came July 24. Once the health department was able to talk to the parents, they made the connection to Rufus Putnam Daycare.

Whitacre said 15 people who had some connection with the children have reported some sort of diarrhea symptoms. All are being tested. In addition, she said since this is a food-borne illness all food preparers are being tested.

The food is prepared off site, Whitacre said, and those people also prepare food for other programs. None have displayed any symptoms, she said.

People with diarrhea of infectious or unknown cause are not permitted to attend a child-care center or work in a sensitive occupation and may return only after the diarrhea has ended.

The Rufus Putnam Daycare is operated out of the former Rufus Putnam Elementary School, 920 Moxahala Ave., and was inspected, Whitacre added.

Whitacre said the best thing to prevent shigella is simply for people to do a good job washing their hands. She said washing your hands with soap and water is better than using a hand sanitizer and people should sing the "Happy Birthday" song while washing their hands if they need to make sure they are doing it long enough.

During 2008, there were three cases of shigella in Muskingum County; 677 cases have been reported statewide this year.



Main Page

setstats Copyright (C) All rights reserved under

If you have any comments, please  send your email to