Public Health warns children are most at-risk for Shigellosis - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Public Health warns children are most at-risk for Shigellosis

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Of the 15 confirmed cases of the infectious disease Shigellosis, 10 have involved children.

An ongoing outbreak of the disease has Guam's Public Health on high alert, warning residents to take precautions, especially with the most at-risk population - kids.

Keeping a close eye on an outbreak, Dr. Ann Pobutsky, territorial epidemiologist at the Guam Department of Public Health says the number of reported cases is increasing.

"We've had a total of 29 cases all of last year, and we're already up to 15 in the first four months of 2019 - that's why we're bringing up this issue," she said.

Most cases of Shigellosis- an infectious bacterial disease caused by the bacteria Shigella- affect children under the age of 15. Some even less than 5-years-old have been rushed to the ER and hospitalized.

"Two-thirds of the cases are children, one-third of those cases are children under five," Pobutsky explained. "Those are the children who are most at risk for Shigella, which is a bacterial infection that is caused by exposure to Shigella to someone who's sick and it's usually through fecal material."

People usually get sick after putting something in their mouth or swallowing something that's come in contact with contaminated stool. Symptoms can include diarrhea, fever, and cramps. Though Shigellosis can sometimes go unnoticed.


"And some people don't have any symptoms at all they can just be carriers and spread it to other people," Pobutsky said. "But it's prevented by careful hand washing, soap, and water. Especially if you're sick, you shouldn't be preparing food for anybody else."



While four cases are still pending investigation, preliminary data from Public Health says three cases were linked to overcrowded housing, one to a lack of indoor plumbing, and seven were sporadic.

Her advice to prevent the spread--wash your hands with soap, practice food sanitation, and good hygiene.

"What we're trying to do is encourage the community to be very vigilant about hygiene and sanitation, especially if you're living in a crowded household or if your children go to a daycare center or you work in a daycare center 309 or if you have no indoor plumbing," Pobutsky said.
"If you're eating or preparing food wash your hands, if you're changing diapers or taking care of little kids or kids that are sick wash your hands, don't swallow water when you're swimming out or hiking."

Healthcare providers are urged to be on alert and report cases promptly to the Bureau of Communicable Diseases.

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