More than 60 cases of Shigella in Grayson Co. outbreak

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GRAYSON COUNTY, TX -- A Shigella outbreak continues to hit Grayson County hard. Health Department officials say new cases are being reported every day.

News 12 last reported there were 36 cases just before Thanksgiving. But, in just 13 days that number has jumped to 61 confirmed cases in Grayson County.

A command center has been set up at the Health Department, where they say employees are working to stop Shigella from spreading.

"It may never be known, but we are trying to determine how this started and of course how we can stop it, most importantly. Because it needs to be stopped," Amanda Ortez said.

Grayson County Health Department's Amanda Ortez says Shigella continues to make dozens sick in Grayson County.

There are now 61 confirmed cases of the highly contagious bacteria In people ranging from two years old to 72.

There are confirmed cases in Sherman, Van Alstyne, Howe and now three elementary schools in Denison.

"It's very important for people to be aware of the symptoms," Ortez said.

"It consists of possible bloody diarrhea, maybe with a mucus layer. And then also vomitting, any kind of nausea, a fever. So, that's whenever you want to stay home."

The health department has set up a command center to deal with the outbreak. Ortez says they're calling people with confirmed cases -- asking questions that could help them in the investigation.

She says they're also working with school districts and physicians.

"The ice storm has somewhat dampened our efforts. Now, the time period that the children are out of school may be helpful and we'll find out soon enough. But yes, I think that we're doing, at this time, the best that we can," she said.

If you suspect you have Shigella, see a doctor immediately.

"If these patients don't receive treatment and they do have Shigella, and they're not receiving antibiotics, it's possible for these patients to shed Shigella for up to a month," Ortez said.

If you have its symptoms, she says you must stay home from work or school. Do not cook meals and wash your hands often.

"We can stop this. But, it takes a joint effort," she said.

Shigella can be even more dangerous for young children and the elderly -- leading to hospitalization.

If you've been diagnosed, the health department is asking you contact them.

Grayson County Health Dept. Sherman location (903) 893-0131, Denison location (903) 465-2878

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