CDC Warns of an Increase in Antibiotic-Resistant Stomach Infections

America is facing a ‘serious public health threat’ after a sharp rise in infections caused by an antibiotic-resistant stomach bug, officials have warned.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned around 5 percent of shigella cases were now drug-resistant, compared to none in 2015.

About 450,000 patients catch shigella — the bacteria that causes shigellosis — every year, estimates suggest. Its main symptoms are diarrhea which is sometimes bloody, fever, stomach pain and feeling the need to pass stool even when the bowels are empty.

Last month, scientists in Massachusetts raised the alarm after spotting America’s first cases of super-gonorrhea.

Cases of antibiotic-resistant shigellosis are on the rise in the US, the CDC has warned (Stock image) 

The above graph shows the percentage of shigella cases that showed resistance to antibiotics. It is now up to five percent, compared to zero percent in 2015

Naeemah Logan, a CDC medical officer, said that these ‘superbug’ cases are a ‘serious public health threat and we want to ensure that providers are aware of the increasing potential for antibiotics to fail’.

Most do not require antibiotics and recover within a week after a period of rest and Sex fluids.

But antibiotics are offered to people who have weakened immune systems because of HIV or chemotherapy they are receiving. It may help to prevent complications and shorten the duration of the illness.

The rise in superbug shigella cases has been particularly sharp among gay and bisexual men, travelers, the homeless and people living with HIV. 

In its advisory, the CDC warned the cases were showing resistance to five antibiotics used against the disease. 

CIPROFLOXACIN: The above shows the number of cases of shigellosis detected that had decreased susceptibility to the antibiotic ciprofloxacin by year since 1999

CEFTRIAXONE: The above shows the number of cases of shigellosis detected that had resistance to the antibiotic ceftriaxone

These were azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, ceftriaxone, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and ampicillin. 

The first three are commonly used to treat patients, with the other two held back as alternatives.

A total of 239 patients were diagnosed with resistant infections between 2015 and 2022. Some 90 percent of these cases were detected over the last two years.

Patients were 42 years old on average, the CDC said, and 82 percent were men. 

Of the 41 surveyed, 88 percent reported male-to-male sexual contact.

Cases were detected across 29 states. The largest numbers were in California (76), Colorado (36) and Massachusetts (34).