Drug-Resistant Food Poisoning Has Hit American Shores – Though Highly Contagious, CDC Isn’t Worried

A highly drug resistant form of food poisoning bacteria has hit American shores. Though the bacterium has already claimed quite a few victims, the CDC has assured there’s nothing to worry about.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced late last week that a drug-resistant strain of the Shigella bacteria has been confirmed to be affecting Americans. Shigellosis food-poisoning outbreaks have been reported from multiple regions, confirmed CDC.

Most vulnerable areas are California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. However, the infection can occur wherever there is poor hygiene, advised CDC.

Shigella is a dysentery-type bacterium that infects your intestines and causes high fever, severe stomach cramps, excessive diarrhea, and vomiting. Patients may also have blood, pus or mucus coming out of both ends. If this sounds horrific, The CDC reports that at least 243 people have gotten sick with the bug over the past year in 32 states within the last couple of weeks, with 20 percent of the cases requiring hospitalization.

What’s concerning about the epidemic waiting to happen is the fact that over half a million Americans regularly get shigellosis each year. But this particular strain of Shigella is pretty terrifying primarily because it’s resistant to ciprofloxacin – the first-line of defense antibiotic that doctors usually use to treat dysentery, shared Michaeleen Doucleff, who led the study.

“If rates of resistance become this high, in more places, we’ll have very few options left for treating Shigella with antibiotics by mouth,”

What’s even more petrifying is the fact that Shigella is extremely contagious. Just 10 germs in food or water are enough to spread the infection.

The DCD suspects the bug was most likely brought in from travellers visiting India, the Dominican Republic and Morocco. However, the drug-resistant strain of shigellosis has now started to be spread within the U.S.

“Although this Shigella strain is strongly associated with international travel, it is now circulating domestically. If introduced to populations of homeless persons, MSM, or children in child care settings, Shigella can spread rapidly and cause large, protracted outbreaks, as has occurred in the homeless population in San Francisco.”

Though this may sound unnerving, experts assure that in all likelihood, the infection lasts just about a week. Moreover, there are still medications that doctors can use to treat this strain. Still, if ignored, the bacteria can infect other parts of the body, eventually leading to blood infections and even death.

Fortunately, it is quite easy to protect yourself from infection, advises CDC. Merely keeping hands clean while handling and consuming food and eating only well-cooked meals can maximize your chances of staying clear of this highly drug resistant form of food poisoning bacteria.

[Image Credit | CDC]