Sat, Nov 24, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Dysentery outbreak `not serious'

COMMUNICABLE Eleven students in a Taichung City elementary school have been confirmed to have the disease. Officials suspect tainted tap water is to blame

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Volunteers yesterday assist in the distribution of medicine at Beitun District Elementary School, Taichung City, to prevent the further spread of dysentery.


The Centers for Disease Control yesterday said that the recent outbreak of dysentery at a Taichung City elementary school has been contained and that the affected students should make a full recovery after a five-day regimen of medication.

Out of 210 suspected cases of bacillary dysentery in Beitun Elementary School, 11 students have been confirmed as carrying the communicable disease.

"The students affected should fully recover after taking medication for five days straight," CDC official Lee Chiu-feng (李翠鳳) said, adding the recent outbreak was "not serious" but that the CDC would continue to monitor the suspected cases.

The CDC and Taichung City Bureau of Health have also dispatched health workers to the school to educate the students and faculty on correct hygiene habits. The campus has also been disinfected.

All affected students have been excused from classes, the school said.


It is suspected that the outbreak occurred because the school's underground water and tap water supply is in close proximity to the school's septic tank.

The Ministry of Education yesterday said all schools in Taiwan are required to use tap water for drinking and hand-washing and vowed to closely inspect all the schools to make sure the water supplies for schools are clean and suitable for human use.

Bacillary dysentery, also known as shigellois, is a foodborne illness caused by infection from the bacteria of the genus Shigella which is frequently found in water polluted with human feces and is transmitted via the fecal-oral route.

The usual mode of transmission is directly person-to-person and hand-to-mouth in poor hygiene situations such as those among children. Symptoms may range from mild abdominal discomfort to full blown dysentery characterized by cramps, diarrhea, fever, vomiting and blood or pus in the stool.


Many parents are blaming the school and the Bureau of Health for concealing the outbreak, saying they were not informed about it for a few days until they read about it in their children's communication books.

One local cable network reported that the school had claimed a female first grader was the origin of the outbreak. The school's Education Affairs Supervisor Chia Ching-liang (賈金良) was quoted as saying the girl was infected with the bacteria when she went to Nantou County's Jenai Township (仁愛) and Kuohsing Township (國姓) with her family for a short vacation.

The family refuted the school's claim because so far the girl is the only person in the family that has been affected. If the girl caught the virus while on vacation last month, then the whole family should have also been infected, they said.

The Nantou County Bureau of Health also blasted the Taichung school for the accusation, saying that the normal incubation period for the bacteria is one to three days, which means that if the girl had been infected during her visit to the county last month, she would have gotten sick a lot earlier.

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