More cases of Shigellosis reported in Lea, Eddy Co.

More cases of Shigellosis reported in Lea, Eddy Co.
(Source: Raycom Media)

LEA COUNTY, NM (KWES) - Additional cases of Shigellosis in Lea and Eddy County has health officials continuing to investigate.

Officials with the New Mexico Department of Health, there are a total of 71 cases with the majority of the cases being children who were associated with child care centers and their family members.

Shigellosis is a bacterial disease characterized by diarrhea, fever, nausea, and sometimes vomiting, cramps, and toxemia (blood poisoning from toxins produced by the bacteria). Diarrhea will often contain blood and mucus. The time between exposure to Shigellosis and symptom onset varies from 1 to 7 days, but is typically 1-3 days. Possible complications from Shigellosis infections include post-infectious arthritis, blood stream infections (although rare), seizures, and hemolytic-uremic syndrome or HUS.

Health officials say shigellosis is very contagious. An infected person can shed the bacteria in their stool when they have diarrhea and up to a month after the diarrhea has gone away. Shigellosis can be spread by:

  • Infected persons can spread Shigellosis by not washing their hands after going to the bathroom and then handling food that other people will eat.
  • Caretakers can become infected by changing the diaper of an infected child or caring for an infected person. The caretaker’s hands may get some small amount of stool and bacteria on their hands, and without proper hand hygiene, spread the bacteria to everything they touch afterwards (including their mouths).
  • Swallowing recreational water (for example a splash pad, pool, and/or lake) that was contaminated by infected fecal matter.
  • Exposure to feces through sexual contact.

"If your child is sick, please do not take your child to daycare or the local pool and splash pad.  This will only spread this illness to other children and their families," advises Lynn Gallagher, Secretary of Health.  "If you think that your child may have Shigellosis, please take your child to their healthcare provider to be tested."

You can decrease your chance of coming into contact with Shigellosis by doing the following:

  • Washing your hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing and/or eating food.
  • Promptly cleaning possible contaminated surfaces with household chlorine bleach-based cleaners.
  • Washing soiled clothing and linens.
  • Avoiding food or water from sources that may be contaminated.
  • Not sending sick children to school, daycare, or local pool and splash pads if they have persistent diarrhea.

More information about Shigellosis is available at

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