Cases of Waterborne Illnesses More than Double in Bell County - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Cases of Waterborne Illnesses More than Double in Bell County

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(KCEN) – Bell County is reporting a large spike in Shigelloses cases compared to previous years. Normally they see an average of 30 cases a summer, but they’re starting to see 30 cases each month.

“Generally you’re going to have bloating, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea for up to about seven days, then it will go away on its own,” Lacey Sanders said.

Sanders is the epidemiologist for the Bell County Public Health District, and says other central Texas counties are also seeing the spike in Shigella.

Shigella is a food borne illness transferred by eating with dirty or infected hands, but it’s also a waterborne illness that occurs naturally in bodies of water like rivers, lakes, creeks and oceans and is transferred by drinking the water.

“I think the assumption is a lot of people never view water sources as contaminated,” Sanders said. “You don’t need to be afraid of it, you just need to be smart about it. Don’t drink the water. It’s the biggest thing I can say is please don’t drink the water.”

Sanders says once an infected person gets into a public pool there is little that can be done besides boosting chlorine levels. Most pools like city pools constantly monitor the levels to make sure the chlorine is doing it’s job and minimizing the risk of spreading contaminates.

“We check it every two hours. We also have a UV filtration system that actually kills DNA for any little pathogens. It’s just another measure we take to prevent any other diseases in the water,” City of Temple aquatics director Keith Dawson said.

The UV filters are used at both Lion’s Junction water park and at their indoor Sammons community pool. In addition to those added precautions, Dawson says they also use about three times the chlorine required by the state.

While you can’t control who gets into the pools, you can control your children’s habits. Parents should never take their children to the pool if they’re sick, and should wait 24 hours after their symptoms are over before getting into any body of water.

Also teach children to not swallow the. Have your children go on frequent bathroom breaks. When they get out of the pool to eat make sure they wash their hands. But most importantly don’t let it ruin your summer, just be aware the risk of Shigella is there, and the steps you can take to avoid getting the illness.

“If you worried about every disease out there you would never go anywhere,” Sanders said. “You just need to be smart about it.”

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