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Stomach infection affecting young children in Mid-Missouri

Boone County health officials said they have seen a substantial rise in Shigella infections, with more than 20 cases in just the past two weeks, which is almost five times the average over the last years.

Shigella is an intestinal disease that usually shows up in young children.

“It’s transmitted — feces to mouth. It can be after washing hands — not washing them long enough, not with hot water, not with soap. A number of things regarding hand washing and then is just spreads from there,” said Andrea Waner from Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services.

Shigella is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea and cramps among others.

Boone County Health officials said over the past two weeks, 25 cases of Shigella have been reported in the county. Officials said that’s a dramatic increase, when compared to the previous five years — in each of those years, there were only six cases. Officials said children make up the majority of cases. “Typically, with Shigella, you’ll see it in a daycare setting or a school setting — in children of that age — kids who maybe aren’t potty trained or aren’t properly trained to wash their hands,” said Waner.

Boone County Health officials said they’re not sure what’s causing the increase in Shigella cases over the past two weeks, but they said they do know how to stop it from spreading. “Review hand washing procedures with staff as well as help kids who maybe aren’t washing long enough — teaching them how to wash and monitoring them,” said Waner.

St. Louis County has also seen a dramatic rise in Shigella cases. St. Louis health officials told ABC17 the county has seen a full-on outbreak since September, but now, cases seem to be leveling off.

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