Last Updated: Apr 08, 2023

The officials from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have raised alarm regarding a drug-resisting diarrhea-causing bug that is spreading quite rapidly in the United States. The data from CDC has shown a visible spike in widely drug-resistant variants of Shigella bacteria in the last half-decade. Although these infections are usually not fatal, antibiotics are required to avert and cure life-threatening incidents, and the bacteria can transfer their resistance genes to other worrying germs.

Experts have said that Shigella is one of the most standard causes of diarrhea across the world, with a projected 450000 infections in the United States yearly. They have said that the majority of infections are mild but can cause a week’s worth of diarrhea, cramps, and fever among people. At times, diarrhea turns bloody, which is a disorder called dysentery. More infrequently, the infection can lead to complications such as seizures, severe dehydration, sepsis more often due to bacteria reaching the bloodstream, and kidney damage and sepsis. Severe infection is more likely to take place among very young adults and as well as people who have compromised immune systems.

Experts have said that the bacteria seldom take the lives of people in the country, nonetheless, it still can lead to a considerable amount of hospitalization among thousands of people each year. Health professionals claim that it is a significant threat to global public health, specifically in economically weaker regions of the world with insufficient healthcare support and sanitation. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), Shigella claims the lives of nearly 200000 people each year.

As per the report, the majority of infections get better on their own, with the usual treatment that involves having only fluids and taking enough rest. However, when these cases turn severe or occur among people who are at a greater risk for severe illness, antibiotics are used by health professionals to reduce the duration of infection. Regrettably, Shigella is one of the many bacterial illnesses that are gradually acquiring resistance to these once-reliable antibiotic treatments. The officials from the US Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have said that Shigella bacteria have acquired the ability to resist several antibiotics that have previously been used as forefront therapies.

Nevertheless, some variants of the bacteria are said to be extremely drug-resistant, which means they show resistance to each drug that is typically used to cure infections linked to them. The data gathered from the national surveillance system of the CDC showed that almost zero percent of Shigella incidents that were found in the United States carried these strains in 2015. Nonetheless, the federal health agency has reported in a health advisory released recently that only 5 percent of infections in 2022 have been broadly drug-resistant. Experts have said that it might be possible that most of these cases recover on their own and will still react to less utilized antibiotics, either alone or in the recipe with other medications.

Health experts have said that at present, there is no sure-shot therapy plan for these resilient variants, which means that healthcare professionals will be wasting their valuable time and assets in trying to develop one. In the case of some serious infections, such a delay can be fatal. The most worrisome situation is that many of the genes that offer protection against these variants can be transferred to other bacteria present in the gut which will only further trigger antibiotic resilience in general.

Another huge matter of concern is that Shigella is highly transmissible, therefore, outbreaks can rapidly go out of control. The bacteria can transmit via contaminated food and water, person-to-person interaction, as well as sex. Prior to this month, for example, European health officials have reported an extensive outbreak that has affected hundreds of tourists and few of them have been from the United States who have been staying at five-star hotels in the island country of Cape Verde.

Some of these incidents have been carrying multidrug resilient variants, said the experts. The officials from the US Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have said that considering these possibly severe public health concerns, they have asked healthcare professionals to be attentive to suspected and confirmed incidents of widely drug-resilient Shigella infection and report them immediately to their local or state health units and educate patients and communities about the increased risk of infection and its prevention and transmission. Health experts have been vigorously trying to develop Shigella vaccines and have started testing them in clinical trials.

These clinical trials might help stem the damage it leads to. However, in the meantime, people can alleviate their risk of catching or transmitting Shigella bacteria and multiple other stomach bugs by frequently washing their hands and sensibly discarding their small kids’ diapers. Healthcare professionals have advised that people who think that they have contracted the bacteria should refrain from going and should stay home. They should not go swimming or prepare meals for others while they are suffering from diarrhea, and as the infection can transmit via sex, they should not have sex at least for two weeks after they are cleared of symptoms of the infection.