Six new cases of shigella confirmed

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BY LEEANN MOORE Staff Writer August 9, 2009

ZANESVILLE --Six more cases of an infectious disease caused by bacteria have been confirmed.

Eight people have tested positive for shigella over the past two weeks, according to Vicki Whitacre, medical director of the Zanesville-Muskingum County Health Department.

Six children and two adults have tested positive and they all have one thing in common, Whitacre said, they attend or have been at the Rufus Putnam Day Care Center on Moxahala Avenue.

"It's been slow. This all started in mid to late July and considering there are 79 children there and I don't know how many workers, that's not bad," Whitacre said.

One person was briefly hospitalized as a result of the disease, which is most commonly the result of bacteria being passed from stool or dirty fingers to another person's mouth. It's also a food-borne illness.

Symptoms include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps that start a day or two after exposure. The diarrhea is often bloody. Shigellosis usually ends in five to seven days, but Whitacre said it sometimes takes up to two weeks for the body to get rid of all of the bacteria.

The first case was reported July 17 and the second was reported July 24.

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.

"We're still continuing to make sure that we're keeping everything cleaned, the drinking fountains, pencil sharpeners, desks, door knobs, we're wiping those down, everything the kids touch, and we're making sure the bathrooms are clean," said Kevin Appleman, coordinator of operations/student services.

"We're continuing to tell students and staff to be sure to wash their hands, so we're just working with them and doing everything we can to try to get this to come to a stop."

Whitacre said the best way to prevent the spread of the disease is by hand washing.

"Again, we want to stress hand washing if they're going to the bathroom," she said.



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