It is not a pleasant topic and that may be a contributing factor in a marked increase in shigellosis in the metro.
Shigellosis is spread through fecal matter and assisted by poor or no hand washing. The good news is the increase in shigellosis cases can be controlled.
The numbers are relatively low. Douglas County averages about 31 cases of shigellosis a year, but this year there have been 50 cases already confirmed.
Health officials want to get the word out about the importance of hand washing. They also say anyone who has had diarrhea should stay out of pools for at least a week after their last symptoms.
The Kare-Bears Day Care in Benson is shigella-free, thanks in large part to Karen Watkins diligence and routine. Her kids are taught from the start that washing their hands is just something they have to do.
"Kids need a lot of order and routine and part of that is washing hands. Once they get into that a lot of times they just want to go in by themselves and wash their hands."
The routine at Kare-Bears helps keep things clean, but not every day care has been as diligent as Watkins'. In fact, the recent spike in shigellosis cases in Douglas County can, for the most part, be traced back to caregivers.
Sixty-two percent of the recent shigellosis cases have been associated with child care settings. Children less than 5-years-old make up 41 percent of those cases. Add in children between 5 and 9-years-old and the number of cases jumps to 70 percent.
That's why the Douglas County Health Department is asking everyone to take the time to protect themselves and others from shigellosis. Dr. Adi Pour says, "Like when influenza season is around we pay a little more attention to hand washing, this because we have shigella in our community so again a little more attention to hand washing."
At Kare-Bears, Watkins is taking even more precautions. The towels in the bathroom are disposable and so is the mat on the diaper table. There is also another rule, use soap and warm water to wash your hands.
"Not getting into the habit of just using hand sanitizer because that doesn't always work well, but the adults have to do their hand washing too not just the kids. It is important that adults wash their hands after changing diapers."
It really is as simple as it sounds. It is just a matter of routine and discipline.
The number of shigellosis cases in Douglas County has increased again. At the start of Wednesday there were 50 reported cases, by noon there were 52.