In the past month, there has been an increase in the number of students and an adults state wide reporting symptoms of a gastro-intestinal illness, some confirmed as Shigellosis (http://www.cdc.gov/shigella/), a highly contagious infection caused by bacteria called Shigella.
Shigella is found in the feces of an infected person and is spread by ingesting the bacteria via contaminated food, water, or objects, or by direct contact with the feces of an infected person. This commonly happens when an infected person does not wash his/her hands properly after a bowel movement, then touches somebody else's hands or objects, or prepares food for others. Symptoms include: diarrhea (which may be bloody), vomiting, fever, and/or abdominal cramps.
The illness usually begins 1 to 3 days after bacterial exposure, and symptoms typically last 4 to 7 days. When a person has symptoms, they are more likely to spread the bacteria but may spread the bacteria for 1-2 weeks after symptoms resolve. The illness is usually self-resolving (meaning the body will fight off the infection without treatment), and lasts 4 to 7 days. If you notice any of the above symptoms in your child or other family members, please consult your physician. Since other bacteria and viruses can cause these same symptoms, the only way to diagnose the disease is by testing a sample of feces for the bacteria. If your child is infected, treatment is available that may shorten the illness and reduce the amount of time that a person can transmit the disease.