Another Superbug ends up in the U.S. – Shigella
Most bacterial food borne infections are treated with the antibiotic ciproflaxin. If you go overseas, it the main drug recommended for travellers who get sick from their food in other countries. But Shigella is proving to be a superbug that has a strain that is resistant to cipro treatment – and it has authorities worried because it has shown up here in the United States.
Shigella is exceptionally contagious and spreads through contaminated food and water. But what was once only the bane of travellers to developing countries, has now reared its ugly head in 32 states. Shigellosis affects nearly 100 million people each year, killing around 600,000.
The bacteria affects the intestines, creating severe vomiting, cramping and rectal pain, as well as bloody or mucus-laced diarrhea.
Thus far, at least 243 people have become ill and 20% of those hospitalized from the bacteria. And this strain is showing drug-resistance.
If you get sick, officials recommends reaching for Kaopectate or Pepto-Bismal instead of asking for ciproflaxin.
“If rates of resistance become this high, in more places, we’ll have very few options left for treating Shigella with antibiotics by mouth…This outbreak really highlights that multidrug-resistance in other countries is also a problem for the U.S.. Cases [in the U.S.] have continued to accrue over the month since we put together this report. So we’re monitoring it carefully.” Dr. Anne Bowen, epidemiologist
If that happens, treatment with IV antibiotics may be the only option left.
“From May to February, the Cipro-resistant strain popped up in 32 states, with large clusters in California, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Bowen and her team linked several of these outbreaks to international travel, including trips to India, the Dominican Republic and Morocco.
But in many instances, people who got sick hadn’t traveled outside the U.S. So the strain has already started to circulate in some states, she says.”
“Vigilant hygiene” – washing of the hands, choosing food carefully – is how it’s prevented. Whether in the United States or overseas, wisdom and caution are the only answers for shigellosis. Generally, the symptoms disappears in around 7 days on their own, but it can cause blood infections and death.