Travel is fueling the spread of multidrug-resistant Shigella around the world, and the highly contagious bacterial infection caused several outbreaks over the past year in the US, according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
At least 243 people in the US have gotten sick, and 20% were hospitalized with the infection, which causes painful cramping, diarrhea and vomiting. While half a million Americans get the regular variety of shigellosis every year, this strain is resistant to ciprofloxacin, the go-to treatment.
Shigella infects about 100 million and kills about 600,000 every year across the globe; Cipro-resistant shigellosis is growing, especially in Asia. Epidemiologist Anna Bowen, who led the study, and her team linked some of the US outbreaks to international travel, although there are signs the strain is circulating domestically as well. Bowen emphasizes that excellent hygiene is the best defense.