Shigella Cases Still on the Rise in Onondaga County

Earlier this year, the Onondaga County Health Department alerted the public about an outbreak of shigellosis in Onondaga County. Fortunately during the summer, the number of cases of shigellosis diminished; recently however, the Health Department began seeing more cases of this illness again.

Dr. Cynthia B. Morrow, Commissioner of Health, explained “to date, the Health Department has received reports of almost 120 confirmed and 50 probable cases of shigellosis.  Clusters of cases have been associated with child care and adult care programs, but many cases are scattered throughout the community, with a concentration in the city of Syracuse.  Furthermore, more than half of the ill individuals are children, mostly young children aged 5 and under.”  At this time, the Health Department believes the majority of cases are the result of ongoing person-to-person transmission within the community.  Because so many of the affected individuals are children, the Health Department has reached out to child care facilities and schools across the County to provide education about the outbreak and tips to prevent the spread of this disease.

Shigellosis is usually a food-borne gastrointestinal illness and is easily transmitted from person-to-person by fecal-oral route.  The Health Department is reminding the public that the best way to prevent shigellosis is by practicing good hand washing.  Hand washing with water and soap (alcohol-based hand gel can be used if soap and water are not available) is essential in helping to reduce the spread of this disease.  Be sure to wash hands:

  • after using the bathroom
  • before eating
  • after playing outdoors
  • after changing diapers
  • after petting animals
  • after sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose
  • anytime that your hands are soiled

For more information about shigellosis or ways to reduce its spread, contact the Onondaga County Health Department at 435-3240.