CDC warns of increased drug-resistant stomach illness

The CDC is warning clinicians and public health departments to be on the lookout for highly resistant Shigella infections, which are on the rise and can be difficult to treat. The agency has scheduled a call next week to brief clinicians about the rise in cases and how to manage them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning clinicians and public health departments about the rise in cases of Shigellosis, a serious gastrointestinal infection caused by Shigella bacteria. Shigellosis is usually characterized by diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps, and can be more serious in those with weakened immune systems.

The CDC has been monitoring a recent increase in cases of drug-resistant Shigella infections, particularly in vulnerable populations such as men who have sex with men, international travelers, people living with HIV, and those experiencing homelessness. These resistant infections are challenging to treat and easily transmissible, posing a serious public health threat.

In the past five years, the number of drug-resistant Shigella infections in the United States has risen from zero to 5 percent, with the largest numbers in California, Colorado, and Massachusetts. These strains are resistant to five commonly recommended antibiotics, including azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, and ceftriaxone.

The pandemic is thought to have contributed to the rise in drug-resistant infections, as sicker patients needed more frequent and longer use of medical devices, and clinicians relied heavily on antibiotics to treat patients. Global cases of shigellosis have also been on the rise, with more than 250 reported cases since September 2022 in people who went to Cape Verde in West Africa.

The CDC is urging clinicians to be aware of the increasing potential for antibiotics to fail in treating Shigella infections, and has scheduled a call next week to provide further information on the rise in cases and how to manage them.


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