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April 10, 2015

Stubborn stomach bug makes its way to New Jersey

A drug-resistant intestinal illness that has been making its way throughout the United States has reached New Jersey, NJ 101.5 reports.

International travelers have been bringing a multidrug-resistant stomach bug, Shigella, to the United States and spreading it to others, according to a report released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Shigella sonnei bacteria, which is resistant to the antibiotic ciprofloxacin, sickened 243 people in 32 states and Puerto Rico between May 2014 and February 2015, the CDC said.

“These outbreaks show a troubling trend in Shigella infections in the United States,” CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., said in a statement. “Drug-resistant infections are harder to treat and because Shigella spreads so easily between people, the potential for more – and larger – outbreaks is a real concern.  We’re moving quickly to implement a national strategy to curb antibiotic resistance because we can’t take for granted that we’ll always have the drugs we need to fight common infections.”

Dr. Ed Lifshitz of the Communicable Disease Service with the New Jersey Department of Health told NJ 101.5 that the state knows of three cases associated with the outbreak. However, he said there are undoubtedly more that have gone unreported.

“This is an ongoing problem, not just with Shigella, but with other bacteria in general,” Lifshitz told NJ 101.5. “We’re seeing increasing resistance in many different bacteria.”

The CDC recommends thorough hand-washing on a regular basis to prevent the spread of shigellosis.

According to the CDCShigella is considered very contagious but not life-threatening.

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