The Randolph County Health Department reports that the number of confirmed cases of the infectious disease Shigellosis has declined since the outbreak’s peak in late September.
As of this week there are only 23 confirmed cases of the bacterial infection, the lowest it has been in a month. The Health Department confirmed the outbreak with a letter written to parents and guardians of students at the Moberly Public Schools District, outlining what the disease was, and warning that children should not go to school if they exhibited any of the symptoms listed.
At the time, the majority of the cases originated from South Park Elementary.
Superintendent of Schools Matt Miller said he is not aware of where the disease could have come from, and that he does not consider the reported cases to be an “outbreak.” Miller said that, with the help of the Health Department, preventative measures were taken to eradicate the disease from the school system, and that they were successful.
“There are no new cases at South Park. The concern of the Health Department is now on in-home daycares and preschools,” Miller said.
The majority of confirmed cases came mostly from school-age children, but Health Educator Chelsea Billeck from the Health Department neither confirmed nor denied that their focus was on daycares or preschools.
The primary directive of the Health Department now is to inform Moberly residents of the preventative measures they can take to stop the spread of the Shigella bacteria.
Billeck says that Shigella is a diarrheal bacterial that spreads through fecal matter, but people can also catch the bug from coming into contact with open water sources, such as rivers or lakes. As easy as it is to catch the disease, however, getting rid of it is as easy as washing your hands.
“Shigellosis is very easily transmitted,” Billeck said. “That’s why we’re saying that handwashing is so important because if someone with the bacteria touched a surface, and you touch that surface and put your hand to your mouth, you’re opening yourself up to getting the Shigellosis inside of you.”
Billeck says that washing hands, especially if you are in a household with someone who is confirmed for the disease, is the first line of defense to preventing its transmission. But for those who may already have it, the symptoms of Shigellosis include fever, diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting.
The disease usually clears out of the body within seven days, but the Health Department advises anyone who has these symptoms to contact their local healthcare provider.