Fighting for You: Parent Concerned About Shigellosis Inside Tennessee Valley School

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ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) - Doctors in Alabama have no new patients to treat for West Nile Virus, but they are treating a couple for a bacterium. Health officials confirm two students at Johnson Elementary School in Limestone County have Shigellosis.

A school parent called WHNT NEWS 19 to find out why she hadn't heard anything about the bacterium at her child's school.

The principal told WHNT NEWS 19 the parents got no notification for a couple of reasons. The first is the Sigellosis did not directly affect her child. The second is no one really knew what they were dealing with until one week later.

The parent asked WHNT NEWS 19 to find out what's inside her child's school.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 14,000 people in the United States come down with Shigellosis each year. It's spread when the bacteria in feces or on soiled fingers are ingested.

"We're dealing with a situation of students getting sick and having diarrhea in the school," Johnson Elementary School Principal Dr. Casey Lewis.

Dr. Lewis confirms two of his students have Shigellosis. The principal says half a dozen of the school's students showed signs of the bacterium last week.

"We kind of just focused on what do we do next since we had all of those kids with diarrhea," added Dr. Lewis.

Dr. Lewis talked with the school district's head nurse and state health department.

A parent contacted WHNT NEWS 19 saying she heard the school was dealing with cases of E. coli. She wondered why school leaders did not tell her a bacterium was found inside her child's school.

"We didn't want to have a call to get everyone excited and worried about the word E. coli. We wanted to make sure of the reason for the kids getting sick," added Dr. Lewis.

Teachers reinforce good hand-washing tips by showing students a video each morning.

"We're kind of following up on the kids when they leave the restrooms and also making sure the bathrooms are clean. The bathroom is sometimes where it starts," added Dr, Lewis.

The school's 390 children and staff have been taking the extra steps to maintain good hygiene for a week. The principal says things seem to be working.

"We are seeing more kids coming back to school as a result. I know we have had kids that have had diarrhea come back to school within 2-3 days and don't get sick again," Dr, Lewis.

Dr. Lewis told WHNT NEWS 19 the two students treated for Shigellosis have recovered and are back in school. He says a handful of others are out sick, but don't have the virus.

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