Antibiotic Resistance and Shigella Infections

CDC Health Advisory: Recommendations for managing and reporting Shigella infections with possible reduced susceptibility to ciprofloxacin.

Drugs that kill or stop the growth of bacteria are called antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria are not killed and their growth is not stopped by certain antibiotics. Some Shigella strains are resistant to some antibiotics.

Compared with Shigella infections that do not resist the effect of antibiotics (non-resistant), antibiotic-resistant infections:

  • May be harder to treat.
  • May cost more to treat.
  • May last longer, increasing the chance that Shigella may spread to other people.

An estimated 77,000 antibiotic-resistant Shigella infections occur in the United States each year. Anyone can get an antibiotic-resistant Shigella infection, but some people have a greater chance of infection. These people include:

  • International travelers.
  • Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men.
  • People with weakened immune systems, such as from HIV or chemotherapy treatment.

How can I know if my infection is resistant to certain antibiotics?

Your healthcare provider can order laboratory testing of a sample of your stool (poop) to determine if you have an antibiotic-resistant infection.

What should I do if I have a Shigella infection?

Most people recover from Shigella infection without antibiotics. However, if your healthcare provider prescribes an antibiotic, take it exactly as directed and tell your healthcare provider if you do not feel better within a few days. Your doctor may order additional tests to see whether your infection is resistant.

If I have an infection, what can I do to help protect others?

You can help keep others safe from infection by following the recommendations below:

  • Wash your hands carefully with soap and running water after using the toilet.
  • Stay home while you are ill.
    • If you work in healthcare, childcare, or the food service industry, follow your local health department’s guidance about when it is safe to return to work.
  • Do not prepare food for others while you are ill, if possible.
  • Wait to have sex (vaginal, anal, and oral) at least 2 weeks after your diarrhea ends. Shigella may be in your stool for several weeks so follow safer sex practices or, ideally, avoid having sex for several weeks after you have recovered.