After a surge in RSV cases and flu dominated the scene this winter, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now sounding the alarm about an increase in stomach infections that don’t respond to antibiotics. Caused by an “extensively drug-resistant” strain of Shigella spp. bacteria, the rise in shigellosis cases across the U.S. is especially worrying for parents of young kids—as children under age 5 are the most likely to get infected.
That said, people of all ages can get the disease, and the CDC estimates that Shigella causes around 500,000 cases of diarrhea in the U.S. each year. The illness usually goes away on its own, but moderate or serious infections can be hard to treat, as treatment options are already limited—and may be even more so now with the discovery of an increase in antibiotic-resistant strains. It’s also highly contagious.
But most cases in kids are mild, so try not to worry. “Many people who contract shigellosis can be on the mend within 5 to 7 days without antibiotics,” says Ali Alhassani, MD, Head of Clinical at Summer Health, a pediatric telehealth platform, and a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital. “If this new strain does not cause an increase in the severity of illness, the normal treatment protocol should suffice which may not require antibiotics.”