Antimicrobial Resistance and Shigella Infections

CDC Health Advisory: Increase in extensively drug-resistant Shigella infections (shigellosis) in the United States.

Antimicrobial resistance happens when germs such as bacteria and fungi develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. That means the germs are not killed and continue to grow. Drugs that kill or stop the growth of bacteria are called antibiotics. Some antibiotics may not be effective for treating some Shigella infections because of antimicrobial resistance.

Antimicrobial-resistant Shigella infections:

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

Antimicrobial-resistant Shigella infections have been rising since 2016. An estimated 242,000 antimicrobial-resistant Shigella infections occur in the United States each year. Anyone can get an antimicrobial-resistant Shigella infection, but some people have a greater chance of infection. These people include:

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 a Shigella infection that is resistant to antibiotics.

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.