CBS NEWS – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is tracking a rise in stomach illnesses caused by infections with “extensively drug-resistant” bacteria that leave doctors with few antibiotic options to treat patients.
The CDC warns it now poses a “serious public health threat.”
Over the past few years, the CDC says there are signs the percentage of Shigella bacteria cases that are resistant to a broad swath of antibiotics has begun to climb steeply around the country. These strains can also spread their resistance genes to other stomach bugs.
Analyses of these bacteria, dubbed XDR Shigella, have shown resistance to all of the typically recommended frontline antibiotic treatments for bacteria: azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, ceftriaxone, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, and ampicillin.
Outbreaks of Shigella bacteria often spread through contaminated food and water, via surfaces, or through sex. Symptoms of the disease it causes, a form of dysentery named shigellosis, include fever and diarrhea.
“The agency’s alert cites studies from 2012 and 2016 observing an increase in drug-resistant infections ‘particularly among people experiencing homelessness, international travelers, immunocompromised people, and MSM,’ using an acronym for men who have sex with men.”
Many shigellosis cases resolve with rest and hydration. But especially without treatment, more severe cases can result in hospitalizations and death. The bacteria is estimated to rank among the leading causes of death linked to diarrhea around the world.
The CDC’s alert comes after a 2015 warning by the agency that multidrug-resistant Shigella had first begun to spread to the U.S. from Americans who had traveled abroad.
The CDC says 5% of all Shigella isolates collected in 2022 were classified XDR, up from 1% in 2019.
“Given these potentially serious public health concerns, CDC asks healthcare professionals to be vigilant about suspecting and reporting cases of XDR Shigella infection to their local or state health department and educating patients and communities at increased risk about prevention and transmission,” the agency said in an alert Friday …