Last week Florida Department of Health officials issued a warning to parents, schools and daycare centers that a highly contagious form of explosive diarrhea called Shigellosis has been reported in Broward County.
Although only 8 cases have been confirmed so far, another 33 are highly probable.
Shigellosis is caused by the Shigella bacteria and is spread from one infected person to another. Toddlers are mostly at risk because the bacteria is often spread through contact with infected stool.
Typical symptoms start a day or two after exposure and include severe- often bloody- diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps which can last between 4 to 7 days.
People who have mild infections usually recover without antibiotic treatment. Antibiotics are recommended for those with severe disease.
Although those who are infected rarely have to be hospitalized, children under age 2 who have high fevers can have seizures.
NIH-funded researchers have recently launched an early-stage human clinical trial of two potential vaccines. However, until a vaccine is actually found to successfully prevent Shigellosis, careful handwashing is still the best preventive measure.
Health Department officials advise anyone with symptoms to contact their physician for diagnosis and treatment.
Children with diarrhea should be kept out of school and daycare until their symptoms resolve and lab cultures test negative for the bacteria.