Many more residents than normal from the Coastal Bend area of Texas have reportedly come down with Shilgellosis, a bacterial infection that can cause serious diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps a day or two after being exposed. The Coastal Bend area is on the southeastern part of the state and includes Beaumont.

Shigella bacteria is passed from person to person, usually through poor hygiene practices such as not washing the hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before preparing foods and beverages. The infections is particularly hard on children, and the number of cases being treated at Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Brownsville, has reached 180, according to news reports.

Officials with the Nueces County Health Department in Corpus Christi, said that they typically would have six to eight cases reported by this time of year. However, that number is now up to 154 and may not include all those infected because many people, especially adults, don’t go to a doctor for illnesses that last less than week.

City-County Health Director Dr. William Burgin, Jr., advised those with symptoms to stay home.

“If you have diarrhea, stay home. Don’t go to work. Don’t spread it around,” Burgin said. “And if you have high fever and you think you’ve got a bad case of Shigellosis, please see your doctor. He can give you medication that will make the illness much shorter.”

While there is no vaccine for Shigellosis, those who have a confirmed case can be given antibiotics to help ease the symptoms. Frequent hand-washing is the most effective method of prevention.