Spike in Multidrug-resistant Shigella Infections in the US

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Drug resistant Shigella. http://bit.ly/1bqpG2H
Drug resistant Shigella. http://bit.ly/1bqpG2H

Shigella sonnei is responsible for causing shigellosis, a disease of the digestive tract characterized by diarrhea and cramps. The bacterium spreads mainly through contaminated food and water.

According to a recent report released by the Centre for Disease Control, there has been an increase in the number of people in the US who have been infected with the formidable multidrug resistant Shigella sonnei over the past year. Multidrug resistant bacterial infections are harder to treat because the bacteria causing these infections have stopped responding to drugs that earlier used to kill them.

“Drug-resistant infections are harder to treat and because Shigella spreads so easily between people, the potential for more – and larger – outbreaks is a real concern. We’re moving quickly to implement a national strategy to curb antibiotic resistance because we can’t take for granted that we’ll always have the drugs we need to fight common infections.” said CDC Director Tom Frieden.

The study states that around 243 people were infected with this particular bacterium in the US from May 2014 to February 2015, with the infected clusters mainly localized to the states of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and California.

Shigella sonnei is already resistant to commonly used antibiotics like ampicillin. Researchers concluded that the subtype responsible for this recent shigellosis outbreak was also resistant to ciprofloxacin. Ciprofloxacin is usually prescribed as the first line of treatment for shigellosis as well as to people who have contracted diarrhoea while travelling abroad.

The CDC study was able to obtain travel information from around 75 infected people and found that more than half of that cohort had traveled internationally, to countries including Haiti, India and the Dominican Republic.

“The increase in drug-resistant Shigella makes it even more critical to prevent shigellosis from spreading,” said Anna Bowen, CDC official and main author of the study. “Washing your hands with soap and water is important for everyone. Also, international travelers can protect themselves by choosing hot foods and drinking only from sealed containers.”

For more information on Shigella, please visit: www.cdc.gov/shigella.