Shigella outbreak closes Worth Co schools until Wednesday

Health officials are discouraging over the counter medication for diarrhea since this may aggravate a case of Shigella / Ashley Knight

All four Worth County schools will be closed Monday and Tuesday to prevent the spread of a bacterial infection called Shigella, which is often mistaken for a stomach virus.

"Shigella is a bacterial infection that causes diarrhea," says Southwest Health District Deputy Director Brenda Greene.

Once a case was confirmed a few weeks back, any child displaying any symptoms was sent home. That's when school officials decided to close shop for a deep cleaning.

"So the rooms are being sealed off and, it's kind of like a fog machine so that way it covers all the surfaces in the room so we know we got everything," says Director of Public Relations for Worth County Schools Heather Greene.

Also a reason to close--parents began worrying and the school saw an increase in absences.

"We wanted to let things calm down and get the kids back in school cause it's not helping us if they're absent," says Heather Greene.

Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, blood in the stool, cramping and fever. Health officials believe it started at a daycare and spread from there. So far there have been four cases of Shigella confirmed in Worth County since September and nine cases in Dougherty County since October first. Health officials are discouraging over the counter medication for diarrhea, saying it could aggravate your child's case.

They say washing hands is the best preventive measure.

"If they are in contact with a child who's had diarrhea and that child doesn't use proper hygiene they may touch some surfaces and other children come along and touch those same surfaces. Shigella is often in contaminated water, the water has been contaminated and with Shigella and somebody ingests that," says Brenda Greene.

School staff say to keep children home until they've been diarrhea-free for two days just to be safe.

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