February 27, 2023 | 9:21
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a “serious public health alert”, warning of a national spike in “extremely drug-resistant” shigellosis.
The highly contagious bacterial infection attacks the intestines and causes inflammatory, sometimes bloody diarrhea, according to the CDC’s “emergency response and preparedness.”
There are about 450,000 shigellosis infections each year in the United States, resulting in about $93 million in direct medical costs, according to CDC data. The agency also reported that 5% of all infections in 2022 were extremely drug resistant (XDR) – a jump from zero drug resistant cases in 2015.
An infection is considered XDR when it does not respond to the antibiotics that are typically used to treat it, such as azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, and ceftriaxone, among others.
“XDR shigellosis is resistant to all commonly recommended antibiotics in the United States, making it difficult to treat,” according to the new report. XDR shigellosis is a serious threat to public health : XDR shigella the bacteria have limited antimicrobial treatment options, are easily transmissible, and can spread antimicrobial resistance genes to other enteric bacteria.
Healthcare providers “should understand the nuances of infection screening and management, especially when treating patients from populations at increased risk for drug-resistant shigellosis, including: young children; homosexuals, bisexuals and other men who have sex with men; homeless people; international travellers; and people living with HIV.
Children under 5 – as well as those in child care and educational institutions – and travelers to places “where food and water may be unsafe and sanitation is poor” are at risk risk of contracting a shigellosis infection.
Healthcare professionals treating XDR shigellosis “should consult with a specialist knowledgeable in the treatment of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to determine the best treatment options,” the CDC wrote in its statement.
This latest strain of infection comes as more and more stomach “bugs” spread across the United States. Also known as the stomach flu (although not related to the flu), this highly contagious gastrointestinal illness is usually caused by a norovirus infection, causing days of vomiting, diarrhea and fever in children and adults, which can even lead to death if not properly treated.
The Midwest is seeing the most severe impact of this norovirus season with a test positivity rate of 19.48% as of February 4 – already surpassing last year’s high of 16.12%, recorded at the end of the season, April 2, 2022.
— With post wires