What you need to know about shigella, the drug-resistant stomach bug on the rise The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning doctors and public health agencies about the alarming rise in serious gastrointestinal infections in the United States that are caused by bacteria that are resistant to all antibiotics that are generally recommended.
According to a recent health advisory, the CDC is keeping an eye on an increase in people who are infected with shigella strains that are highly resistant to drugs. These infections are being referred to as “a serious public health threat” by the CDC.
Infections caused by shigella, also known as shigellosis, typically result in fever, abdominal cramps, and prolonged, bloody diarrhea.
The majority of people recover without antibiotics. However, people with weakened immune systems, such as HIV positive or cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, can contract a more severe illness. It is possible for severe infections to spread to the blood, which can result in death.
In the past, shigellosis mostly affected young children. However, the CDC stated that it had documented a recent rise in drug-resistant infections among adults, particularly among men who have sex with other men, international travelers, HIV-positive individuals, and homeless individuals.
Why are authorities in health care concerned about these infections?
Return to the menu Officials in charge of health were unaware of any of these infections eight years ago. However, the resistant bugs started to grow in recent years and increased significantly during the pandemic. 29 states have reported resistant infections, with California, Colorado, and Massachusetts reporting the greatest numbers.
How can individuals safeguard themselves?
Return to menu The Shigella bacteria spread quickly and easily from person to person, even through sexual contact. Additionally, they spread indirectly through contaminated water, food, and other sources. To make someone sick, only a few bacteria are needed. Contaminated individuals can spread the microbes to others for a very long time after their loose bowels closes.
Hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is especially important before preparing or eating food, going to the bathroom, changing diapers, and cleaning up after sick people.
Don’t have sex if you or your partner are having diarrhea. Wait at least two weeks after the diarrhea has passed before having sex.
Avoid inhaling water from swimming pools, lakes, or ponds.
What symptoms are present?
Return to the menu Typically, shigella infections begin to manifest themselves one to two days after contact. Diarrhea that can be bloody or last longer than three days, fever, stomach pain, and the need to urinate when your bowels are empty are some of the symptoms. Symptoms typically last five to seven days, but they can last up to four weeks or more. Before bowel habits return to normal in all cases, it may take several months.
The CDC issues a warning regarding a stomach bug that is highly drug-resistant. If this bug is drug-resistant, are there any treatments?
Return to the menu Most people who have diarrhea only need supportive care, like drinking a lot of water to stay hydrated. Anti-diarrheal medications should not be taken by people who have bloody diarrhea because they might make the symptoms worse.
Although antibiotics can shorten the duration of a person’s illness and reduce the likelihood that they will spread the germ, they are not always required for mild infections. The following antibiotics are not effective against these bacterial strains in the United States: trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX), ceftriaxone, azithromycin, and ampicillin.
The use of various antibiotics, including colistin, which is used to treat patients who have infections that do not respond to other antibiotics, has been proposed by clinicians in the United Kingdom, which reported an increase in cases of extremely antibiotic-resistant infections last year.
When should you seek medical attention or be more concerned?
Return to menu If you or a member of your family has bloody diarrhea, diarrhea that lasts longer than three days, severe stomach cramps, or tenderness, especially if you also have a fever or feel very ill, you should talk to your doctor. If you have other medical conditions or a weak immune system, such as from receiving chemotherapy or an HIV infection, tell your doctor. Those who are ill or have a weak immune system are more likely to get sick for longer periods of time.
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