Infectious Disease Striking Kids in Miami

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Miami shigellosis cases in children reported as health department reminds parents and daycares of proper hand washing

March 27, 2014 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

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(dailyRx News) Are your kids really washing their hands properly? A new infectious disease outbreak in Miami may cause some parents and teachers to take extra note of these hygiene habits.

The outbreak of a disease called shigellosis has now infected over 100 people, most of whom are children under the age of 10.

Health officials are reminding the public of proper hand-washing techniques, which can help stop the spread of this disease.

"Use warm water and soap when washing your hands."

According to the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County, over 100 confirmed cases of shigellosis have been discovered in the county since January 1, 2014. The department noted that the number of cases seen in the area during just the past three months is equal to the average number of cases seen during an entire year in the past three years.

Most of the patients have been children between the ages of 1 and 9 years old, leading health officials to encourage parents, schools and daycare centers to take note and take precautions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explained that shigellosis is caused by the bacteria Shigella, which can cause symptoms like bloody diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. The illness typically goes away in 5 to 7 days, but can in some cases cause severe infection with high fever and hospitalization.

"Most Shigella infections are the result of the bacterium passing from stools or soiled fingers of one person to the mouth of another person," explained CDC, who noted that this often occurs in young children without adequate hand-washing or toilet habits.

CDC noted that Shigella can be present in the stools of an infected person during their illness and up to two weeks after the symptoms subside. The illness can also be passed through contaminated food or water.

In a news release, the Florida Department of Health provided a number of ways to prevent the spread of shigellosis, including washing hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, changing diapers, touching pets or soil and before and after eating or cooking.

"Hand washing among children should be frequent and supervised by an adult, especially in child care centers and homes with children who have not been fully toilet-trained," the department stressed.

Hand washing should include lathering with soap and warm water for a minimum of 20 seconds in a way that includes the palms, backs of the hands, areas between fingers, underneath finger nails and around the wrists, said the Florida Department of Health.

CDC suggested that children with diarrhea should be kept out of child care settings until symptoms subside. The Florida Department of Health recommended that anyone with diarrhea stay home from work, school or daycare for one full day after their symptoms stop.

Review Date: 
March 26, 2014
Last Updated:
March 30, 2014