Drug-resistant stomach flu spreads across US: CDC alert


February 27, 2023 | 9:21 am

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a “serious public health alert,” warning of a nationwide spike in “extensively drug-resistant” shigellosis.

The highly contagious bacterial infection attacks the intestines, causing inflammatory, sometimes bloody diarrhea, according to the CDC’s “emergency and preparedness response.”

There are about 450,000 shigellosis infections in the U.S. each year, resulting in an estimated $93 million in direct medical costs, according to CDC data. The agency also reported that 5% of all infections will be Extensive Drug-Resistant (XDR) by 2022 – a jump from zero drug-resistant cases in 2015.

An infection is considered XDR when it does not respond to antibiotics commonly 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,” the new report said. XDR shigellosis is a serious threat to public health: XDR Shigella bacteria have limited antimicrobial treatment options, are easily transmissible, and can spread antimicrobial resistance genes to other gut bacteria.

Children under age 5 and travelers to places “where water and food may be unsafe and sanitation are poor” are most at risk for shigellosis infection.

Healthcare providers “need to understand the nuances of infection testing and management, especially when treating patients from populations at increased risk for drug-resistant shigellosis, including: young children; gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men; people who are homeless; international travelers; and people living with HIV.”

Children under age 5 — as well as those in day care centers and educational institutions — and travelers to places “where water and food may be unsafe and sanitation are poor” are at additional risk of contracting a shigellosis infection.

Medical professionals treating XDR shigellosis “should consult with a specialist familiar with the treatment of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to determine the best treatment options,” the CDC wrote in its statement.

This latest strain of infection is arriving as more mainstream stomach “bugs” spread across the US. Also known as the stomach flu (although not related to the flu), the highly contagious gastrointestinal illness is usually caused by norovirus infection, which causes days of vomiting, diarrhea and fever in children and adults – which can even lead to death if left unchecked. is treated well.

The Midwest is experiencing the worst impact of this norovirus season with a test positivity rate of 19.48% as of February 4 – already up from last year’s 16.12% recorded late in the season, on April 2, 2022.

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