An outbreak of dysentery caused by shigella bacteria, which health authorities once believed was contained, has continued to spread over the past few days. Fourteen new cases are under investigation in Grayson County. If confirmed, those cases would almost double the 19 cases reported last weekend.

An outbreak of dysentery caused by shigella bacteria, which health authorities once believed was contained, has continued to spread over the past few days. Fourteen new cases are under investigation in Grayson County. If confirmed, those cases would almost double the 19 cases reported last weekend.


Most of the reports of shigellosis have come from Sherman, with a handful in Denison, Howe and Van Alstyne. Local officials expressed concern that the bug could spread further, especially among school children, who are particularly susceptible.


"Unfortunately it appears that it’s continuing to circulate in the community," said County Health Department Spokeswomen Amanda Ortez. "We suspect that this is going to go into all of the (school districts) in Grayson County. It is possible they could transmit it to other children in other communities."


Health officials said the reported cases could be an underestimate of the reach of the outbreak thus far, as some doctors have been slow to report.


"We’re also trying to reach out to physicians in our area to ensure they’re reporting this to us when they receive their lab results," said Ortez. "Some are more compliant with reporting than others."


Symptoms of shigellosis include fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea containing blood. The disease frequently begins in children due to insufficient or poor hand-washing regimens. Ortez said good hygiene is the best way to prevent further spread of the disease.


"We still need parents, day care providers and educators to combat this through good hygienic practices like hand washing. And if they’re sick, it’s important that they stay at home and refrain from preparing food (for others) until they are well."