Federal health officials announced that a drug-resistant Shigella strain is spreading in the U.S. The information was published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on Thursday April 2.
According to officials, travelers are bringing this drug-resistant strain of Shigella sonnei, which causes diarrhea, to the U.S. And the infection spreads to other people. Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explained that these outbreaks are pointing to a “trend in Shigella infections in the United States”.
The CDC warned that this strain is resistant to ciprofloxacin (Cipro) which is an antibiotic and that between May 2014 and February 2015 there were 243 new infection cases reported in 32 states and in Puerto Rico.
Shigella causes approximately half a million diarrhea cases in the U.S. annually. Other unpleasant symptoms caused by this bacterial strain are acute muscle cramping, nausea and vomiting.
The high rate of Shigella infections can be explained by the fact that it spreads easily from one person to another through contaminated food and water. The infection can spread even quicker among some groups such as children in care facilities, homeless people and gay and bisexual men.
Frieden stated that the CDC is “moving quickly to implement a national strategy to curb antibiotic resistance”. He added:
“We can’t take for granted that we’ll always have the drugs we need to fight common infections.”
In the United States, most Shigella strains are already showing resistance to antibiotics such as ampicillin and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole. And now there is the resistance to ciprofloxacin, a phenomenon on the rise worldwide.
Ciprofloxacin is an antibiotic usually prescribed to U.S. citizens who travel to other countries in case they develop diarrhea while visiting another country. The antibiotic helps reduce the symptoms and shorten the time needed to recover, which for those in otherwise good health is about a week.
Dr. Anna Bowen, report author and a medical officer in CDC’s Waterborne Diseases Prevention division stressed the need to prevent shigellosis from spreading. As drug resistance is on the rise, the best treatment is prevention.
She made a few recommendations like the need to clean one’s hands with soap and water. She also suggested travelers eat hot foods and drink “only from sealed containers”.
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