RAPID CITY, S.D. — Rapid City and counties around the Black Hills are seeing a noticeable rise this year in cases of a bacterial disease that can cause severe diarrhea and fever.
The South Dakota Department of Health has recorded more than 500 cases of Shigellosis since late 2013, and almost half of them have been in the western portion of the state. There were only 11 cases statewide in 2012, according to the Rapid City Journal (http://bit.ly/1zyZjPW ).
Shigellosis typically spurs diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps for five to seven days.
There have been 34 reported cases in Rapid City and 299 across the entire western side of the state, according to data from the Department of Health collected from Jan. 1 to June 30. There were 53 cases reported in all of the central counties in the state and only 16 on the eastern side.
State epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger said the disease is usually spread through fecal contamination. So, while it's rarely fatal, it still puts children at risk, since they may not wash their hands as frequently as adults.
"My fear, particularly in the summer months, is that that kids will get dehydrated," he said.
Kightlinger also said it can spread quickly throughout a community. "In Shannon County, they had 100 cases in just a matter of a few weeks."
The epidemiologist said good hygiene is a way to prevent contracting the disease.
Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com