STANISLAUS COUNTY -- Good hygiene is the first line of defense for nurses and doctors, and now with a spike in the number of people infected with shigella in Stanislaus County, the health services agency is reminding families to wash hands thoroughly and stay home if they have diarrhea.
Officials warn that symptoms can include fever and stomach cramps that could last for a week.
The county said typically only 10 people are affected by the illness in a year. But in 2016 alone, 47 shigella cases have been confirmed.
"There’s definitely a strain or something that’s causing it to be spread more readily,” said Dr. Edward Stanford, the chief medical officer with Doctors Medical Center.
Stanford said their microbiology department noticed an uptick in shigella cases. They sent off their findings to the county.
Stanford said the disease is contagious but preventable.
"You really want to thoroughly wash your entire hand, the wrist area and between fingers,” he said.
He explained that washing hands, using antibacterial gels and good hygiene overall, especially when dealing with food and group settings, can protect you and your loved ones.
The county also said that people who experience diarrhea for more than two days should see their doctor and ask to be tested for the shigella infection.