Grayson County Health Director informs students and community about Shigella and Norovirus outbreaks

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SHERMAN, TX -- Since the beginning of the Shigella outbreak in October, health officials say there have been 129 confirmed cases of Shigella in Grayson County.

Megan Gilder came down with Shigella back in October.

"I was apparently one of the first waves of this outbreak...back in October I was hospitalized," Gilder said.

Gilder was one the first of the 129 confirmed cases in Grayson County.

She and dozens of other Austin College students and community members attended a public seminar Thursday put on by Health Department Director, John Teel.

He says his goal is to prevent the spread of Shigella and a similar sickness that's recently popped up in the county, Norovirus.

"Discuss the kind of effects these two illnesses have on children and adults, the loss time of school, the disruption of children's educational efforts, and parents who miss two to three work days and in many cases don't get paid for those days," Teel said.

Just last week eight staff members at a Sherman restaurant came down with Norovirus.

The owners voluntarily shut down to sanitize the building, but not before 30 patrons contracted the illness.

Teel says informing the students and community about these two sicknesses will not only spark the interest of students interested in public health, but also help spread awareness.

"The importance of hand washing stops so many diseases and even for them so they don't miss any time here at Austin College," Teel said. "It stops influenza often and prevent them from getting shigella, E. Coli, Salmonella, and this miserable Norovirus."

The lecture hit home for Gilder, who hopes no one else has to go through what she did.

"When I was looking at the Power Point and dissecting what had happened in my own life I was like, 'oh...i had that,' so it was really interesting knowing what was going on with me," Gilder said.

Teel says they hope through awareness they can stop the Shigella outbreak by the end of March.

He says there have been about 150 cases of Norovirus in Grayson County over the last few weeks, but that may be slowing as well.

They haven't had many cases reported in the past few days.

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