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Increase in local cases of Shigella prompts health department to remind Ingham County residents to wash hands

LANSING, Mich. – The Ingham County Health Department has confirmed eight cases of Shigella infection in recent weeks and has approximately 30 cases under investigation. On average, the county sees just eight cases annually. The outbreak has health officials asking county residents to be vigilant with hand washing.

Shigellosis is a highly contagious bacterial infection. Symptoms usually start 1 to 3 days after contact with the bacteria and include fever, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea that may contain blood. Most cases resolve on their own or with antibiotic treatment within one week.

“To avoid infection, people should thoroughly wash their hands, especially after using the bathroom or diapering a child, and before eating or preparing food,” said Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail. “Hand sanitizer is also effective between hand washings, but it is not a substitute for soap and water.”

Shigella bacteria can live on surfaces for several weeks, but are easily killed with proper disinfection such as diluted bleach solution.  Ill persons must be symptom free for at least 48 hours before returning to work, school, or daycare to help prevent the spread of the infection.

To date, no county residents have been hospitalized, and all are recovering without complication.

People who have symptoms of Shigella infection, should see their health care provider. For more information on preventing shigellosis, please call the Ingham County Health Department’s Communicable Disease Division at (517) 887-4308 or visit