Antibiotic-resistant Shigella is a growing concern in the United States, as cases of bacterial infection continue to rise.
The agency reported that the proportion of approximately 450,000 annual Shigella infections in the United States resistant to all known antibiotic treatments has risen from none in 2015, 0.4 percent in 2019, and 5 percent in 2022, indicating potentially greater spread.
Highly ContagiousShigella is a type of bacteria that causes shigellosis, a highly contagious illness that affects the digestive system.
It’s typically spread through contaminated food or water, or person-to-person contact.
The rise of antibiotic-resistant Shigella is particularly concerning because it means that some strains of the bacteria are no longer responding to the antibiotics that are typically used to treat shigellosis, which include azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, ceftriaxone, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX), and ampicillin.
Dr. Linda Yancey, an infectious disease specialist at Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston, Texas, told The Epoch Times that this highlights the issue of increasingly antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
“There is a growing chance that the antibiotics we normally use to treat Shigella might not work anymore,” she said.
Don't Need to Be Overly Concerned: ExpertSymptoms of shigellosis include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps, and in some cases, the illness can be severe or even life-threatening.
Antibiotic-Resistant Bugs: A Growing Threat“The rise of drug-resistant bacteria of all kinds is a growing public health threat,” Yancey cautioned. “Because of overuse of antibiotics for many years, we have driven the emergence of bacteria that are harder and harder to treat.”
Despite the rise of antibiotic-resistant Shigella, the overall risk to public health in the United States remains relatively low, and health care providers are ready to treat these antibiotic-resistant strains.
“Patients with Shigella are started on IV fluids for hydration and given antibiotics,” explained Yancey. She pointed out that doctors are aware of the resistant patterns and if they suspect someone has a drug-resistant strain, they will start broad-spectrum antibiotics.
“These [antibiotics] can be narrowed down once culture results have come back,” said Yancy.
The CDC recommends using antibiotics “only when clinically indicated.”
It is important for health care providers to be aware of the potential for antibiotic-resistant Shigella and to take appropriate steps to prevent the spread of the bacteria. This may include testing for antibiotic resistance when diagnosing and treating shigellosis and implementing infection control measures in health care settings.
Reducing Your Chances of InfectionAccording to the CDC, you can reduce the risk of Shigella infection by following these steps:
- Carefully wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food and eating, and after changing a diaper or helping clean another person who has defecated.
- If you care for a child in diapers who is infected, promptly throw away soiled diapers in a covered, lined garbage can. Wash the child’s and your own hands carefully with soap and water immediately after diapering, and promptly disinfect the changing surface.
- Avoid swallowing water from ponds, lakes, and untreated swimming pools.