Health department: Spike in illness commonly spread at pools

Shigellosis cases up in central Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS - Officials with the Indiana State Department of Health are reporting a spike in an illness commonly spread at public pools.

A significant increase of shigellosis cases has been reported in Marion, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks and Johnson counties, officials said.

"The outbreak began associated with schools and day care centers. But now that schools are out, we're seeing a lot more pool activity and so we're concerned that it's going to lead into pool associations," said Enteric Epidemiologist Tess Gorden with the Indiana State Department of Health.

Shigellosis is a bacteria that is spread through fecal matter -- either on your hands or body -- or from infants' diapers. The bacteria is not killed by chlorine.

There have already been 200 cases of shigellosis reported this year in central Indiana, which is 10 times more than this time last year.

Symptoms include diarrhea, cramping, fever and vomiting and usually develop 24 to 72 hours after exposure. The symptoms can last four to seven days and typically go away on their own, but severe cases may require antibiotics.

Michelle Smith, a mother of three, has seen parents change diapers by the pool, which is a big risk for spreading shigellosis.

"Go to the bathroom, do it, wash your hands, come back out, get back in the pool with clean hands, you know,” Smith said.

Samanda Halliburton was worried about the outbreak too, but she refuses to let the fear stop her family's summer fun.

"I can understand being leery of germs and stuff like that. I'm just kind of blocking it out and trying to enjoy what's going on. We pray and we jump in," Halliburton said.

Experts say try not to swallow pool water and shower before and after swimming.

Health officials said kids who are still in diapers should stick to splash pads instead -- or at least wear waterproof diapers in the water, even though they are not always foolproof.

Experts also advised that anyone who has diarrhea or recently had diarrhea should avoid the pool.

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