More than a dozen shigellosis cases confirmed in Champaign County

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CHAMPAIGN--It's an intestinal infection with standard symptoms: fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. But with 20 cases of shigellosis confirmed in Champaign County labs so far this year, health officials say there is cause for concern.

"In 2014, we had two cases. So those kinds of numbers for us is kind of alarming," said Rachella Thompson-Brown, a communicable disease investigator at the Champaign Urbana Public Health District.

The last time Champaign County saw anywhere close to the number of shigellosis cases it's seen so far this year was in 2009, with a confirmed 40 cases. Medical professionals were unable to identify the source then and are still working to identify it this time around, but they are warning everybody in the community to be alert to the symptoms and take necessary precautions.

"The symptoms can last anywhere from five to seven days," said Thompson-Brown. "But the key thing here is that if you have been exposed to shigella, the shedding could last up to four weeks."

Children are the most common carriers and cases have been reported at schools in Urbana and Savoy.

However, this year, more adults are coming down with the illness, prompting health officials to advise everyone that healthy hygiene could help contain the contagion.  

"Another important thing is just practicing good hand-washing," said Thompson-Brown. "Because the bacteria has to have a way to move and it's most likely going to move on the hands."

To keep the illness from spreading any further, anyone with symptoms should stay home until they are feeling better for at least 48 hours.
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