The South Dakota Department of Health is warning residents of the state that cases of shigellosis have been reported in Corson and Walworth counties. Corson has experienced 48 cases of Shigella infection so far this year, and Walworth has confirmed 5 cases. Statewide, 57 cases have been reported in 2008. Last year, there were 117 confirmed cases of Shigella infection in the state.
Shigella can be contracted via contaminated food or water, or by direct person-to-person contact (fecal-oral route). The bacterium is shed in the feces of infected individuals and is transmitted as a result of poor personal hygiene, and inadequate hand-washing after using the toilet. Children are especially at risk, as they are often inattentive to correct hand-washing procedures and frequently put their hands, toys or other objects in their mouths.
Shigella has a typical incubation period of 2-3 days, and can spread rapidly in schools and daycare facilities. The state recommends that children and staff at these facilities who have suffered a Shigella infection should be tested for the bacterium and should stay away until they have achieved two negative stool cultures.