CDC issues health advisory for drug-resistant Shigella: 5 things to know

The CDC issued a health advisory on April 18, warning clinicians about emergent strains of antibiotic-resistant Shigella bacteria.

Shigella are highly contagious bacteria transmitted via person-to-person contact, causing approximately 500,000 illnesses in the U.S. annually. Shigellosis is a gastrointestinal illness characterized by mild to severe diarrhea but can also include symptoms like fever, nausea, vomiting, cramps and bloody stools.

Here are five things to know about the CDC's Shigella health advisory.

1. Recent information on Shigella bacteria gathered by the CDC, state and local public health officials shows certain strains now carry a gene that provides resistance to the antibiotic family quinolone.

2. The drug-resistant gene may result in reduced clinical susceptibility of the bacterial strains to fluoroquinolone antibiotics like ciprofloxacin, which is a key medication in the treatment of Shigella infections.

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3. "Fluoroquinolone resistance is of particular concern given that data from the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System indicate that many Shigella isolates with a quinolone resistance gene also are resistant to many other commonly used treatment agents, such as azithromycin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, amoxicillin-clavulanic acid and ampicillin," said the CDC in the health alert.

4. The CDC suggests clinicians order a stool culture and antimicrobial susceptibility testing for patients with suspected Shigella infections. Also, clinicians should not regularly prescribe antibiotic therapy for shigellosis unless the use of such medication is clinically indicated or advised by public health officials due to an outbreak.

5. Clinicians should report any detection and submit isolates of shigellosis infections displaying resistance to ciprofloxacin to their local health department for further testing.

To read the full CDC health advisory, click here.

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