CDC Issues Warning on Increasing Antibiotic-Resistant Shigella Infections
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning of an increasing number of antibiotic-resistant Shigella infections in the United States. The CDC is urging healthcare professionals to be vigilant for cases of XDR (extensively drug-resistant) Shigella infection and to educate patients and communities at increased risk about prevention and transmission.
Shigella is a bacterial infection that affects the stomach and intestines and is spread through fecal-oral contact, through person-to-person contact, and contaminated food and water. Symptoms usually start one to two days after infection and can last up to seven days. Symptoms may include diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, and nausea.
In February 2022, the United Kingdom reported 84 cases of extensively drug-resistant Shigella, an unusually high number for the region. In the U.S. and various European countries, there have been hundreds of cases reported of travelers coming back from resorts in Cabo Verde that carried multidrug-resistant infections.
The best prevention methods include washing hands with soap and water before preparing food and eating and after changing a diaper or coming into contact with feces. The CDC also advises refraining from sex when you or your partner has diarrhea, and for two weeks after diarrhea resolves.
Antibiotics are sometimes offered to people with a weakened immune system — such as patients with HIV or going through chemotherapy — who are at higher risk of a more serious form of shigella infection where the bacteria enters the blood and can become deadly. The CDC states that those with shigellosis will typically recover without antibiotics, but hydration is recommended. However, for those infected with drug-resistant strains, there are no suggested treatments if the symptoms worsen.
Given these potentially serious public health concerns, the CDC stresses the importance of good hygiene, including washing hands with soap and water before preparing food and eating and after changing a diaper or helping to clean another person’s poop. Healthcare professionals should also be on the lookout for possible Shigella infections and educate patients on the risks.
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