Shigella bacterial infection passing through West GA community

Shigella Stool (Source: CDC)
Shigella Stool (Source: CDC)

Press Release

AMERICUS, GA -  It has come to the attention of Public Health that an illness called Shigellosis has been passing through the community in Americus, GA (Sumter County). 

Shigellosis is caused by a bacterium called Shigella and is commonly passed through person-to-person contact. 

It does not take a large amount of Shigella to make a person ill.  There can be enough Shigella present on the point of a sewing needle to make a full-grown adult sick.

It is the recommendation of Public Health that the following precautions are taken:

  1. Watch your child(ren) to see if any of them become ill with diarrhea and any of the following symptoms: fever, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain/cramping, and/or headaches.
  2. If your children develop diarrhea and any of the other symptoms, please do not send them to school or daycare.
  3. Contact your family's physician for guidance and do not give any medicine to stop the diarrhea unless instructed by your doctor.
  4. Provide plenty of fluids to your child.
  5. Thorough hand-washing with soap and water should be observed at all times!  Please help your children to wash their hands after using the restroom and after playing outside or with other children.  If your child is in diapers, make sure to wash your hands after changing your child and also wash your child's hands as well.  If your child is in school, staff from the school have been alerted and will be working to enforce good hand-washing techniques.

Proper hand-washing, as described by the CDC, is very simple.  Whenever possible, you should use liquid soap and warm water for 20 seconds. 

(When teaching your children to wash their hands, teach them to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice and that will be about 20 seconds.)

 After washing your hands, use a paper towel to dry them and use the same paper towel to turn off the sink. 

(For more tips, check out the CDC's web site at

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • How can I catch Shigella?  Shigella is normally passed from person-to-person.  It is not spread through breathing the same air.  It most commonly spread from a person who does not completely wash his or her hands and then touches a common item, such as a toy or door knob, and then you touch the same item.  If you eat something with your hands, like a cookie or sandwich, it would be easy to pass the bacteria from your hand to your food and then into your digestive system, leading to illness.
  • How do I know for sure I have Shigella?  A lab test through your doctor is necessary to know with absolute certainty you have Shigella.  Alternately, it can be clinically diagnosed if you have diarrhea and either fever, vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramping, and/or headaches.|
  • How can I stop it from spreading in my home?  Keep the sick individuals away from the ones who are not sick.  Make sure to use Lysol or a bleach solution on common surfaces (toilets, sinks, etc.) after use.  Make sure everyone in the home practices safe and good hand-washing procedures.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your family's physician.  Alternately, you may contact your local county health department or the Office of Epidemiology at the District Public Health Office at (706) 321-6157.

Additional links
More details about Shigellosis
How common is it?

Source: West Central Health District