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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a health advisory to warn the public of an increase of a drug-resistant bacteria called Shigella.
There are limited antimicrobial treatments available for these particular drug-resistant strains of Shigella and it’s also easily transmissible, warned the CDC in the Friday advisory. It’s also able to spread antimicrobial resistance genes to other bacteria that infect the intestines.
Shigella infections known as shigellosis can cause a fever, abdominal cramping, tenesmus and diarrhea that is bloody.
The bacteria can be spread by a fecal-oral route, person-to-person contact, and contaminated food and water.
While typically shigellosis affects young children, the CDC says it has started to see more of the antimicrobial-resistant infections in adult populations – especially in men who have sex with men, people experiencing homelessness, international travelers and people living with HIV.
“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 advisory said.
The CDC says patients will recover from shigellosis without any antimicrobial treatment and it can be managed with oral hydration, but for those who are infected with the drug-resistant strains there are no recommendations for treatment if symptoms become more severe.
The percentage of infections from drug-resistant strains of the bacteria increased from zero in 2015 to 5% in 2022, according to the CDC.
Nationwide, there are nearly 3 million antimicrobial-resistant infections each year, and more than 35,000 people die as a result, according to the CDC.
A recent report by the United Nations said roughly 5 million deaths worldwide were associated with antimicrobial resistance in 2019 and the annual toll is expected to increase to 10 million by 2050 if steps are not taken to stop the spread of antimicrobial resistance.