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2002 News from Mecklenburg County

November 8, 2002

HEALTH DEPARTMENT DELIVERS HAND WASHING, HYGIENE VIDEO
TO COMBAT SPREAD OF SHIGELLOSIS 

Charlotte, NC - The Mecklenburg County Health Department is reinforcing proper hand washing and hygiene techniques in a new video now being sent to nearly 1,000 area day care facilities.   The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's GeoNotify phone notification system will alert the facilities of its arrival. 

The video, produced by the Department's health communications, environmental health, and communicable disease staff members, highlights the importance of proper hygiene practices and the role of the day care professional as the first line of defense in stopping the spread of infectious diseases.  Hand washing and diaper changing techniques are reviewed, as well as specifics for mixture and application of bleach sanitizing solution.  The video will also air publicly on the Government Channel (Time-Warner Cable 16) starting Monday, November 11 at 10:00am.  Additional air dates can be found at www.meckhealth.org.

Letters from the Health Department explaining Shigellosis, its spread, and its relationship to proper hygiene were also sent to all Mecklenburg County child day care facilities and parents in centers with infected children.   Nurse epidemiologists and environmental health specialists are also visiting day care facilities linked to current cases, which now stands at more than 120.

Shigellosis is an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella that is present in the stools of infected people and spread via the fecal-oral route.  It is particularly likely to occur among toddlers who are not fully toilet-trained.  Children can also catch it by putting toys or their fingers into their mouths.  Good hand washing, particularly after changing diapers or using the bathroom, can prevent its spread.

Symptoms of Shigellosis may include stomach pain, loose stools, vomiting, nausea, upset stomach and fever.  A laboratory test on the stool of an infected person is used to determine that Shigella is the cause of an illness.  It is most often treated with specific antibiotics.

To prevent the spread of Shigellosis:
· Children and adults should stay away from day care facilities and refrain from food handling and patient care if diagnosed with Shigellosis or other diarrheal illnesses.
· Assist children with toileting and supervise their hand washing.
· Wash hands frequently and vigorously with soap and warm water-especially after going to the bathroom, changing diapers, eating or preparing food or drinks.
· Dispose of soiled diapers properly.
· Disinfect diaper-changing areas after each use.

For more information, contact the Mecklenburg County Health Department's Communicable Disease Control Program at 704-336-3477 or 704-336-4671.



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