All around us


Scientific American:

The kinds of bacteria that can cause food poisoning lurk all around us. These germs can be especially easy to pick up when traveling internationally as well as in places, such as children’s day cares, which are hard to keep clean. The infections usually clear up on their own but sometimes require hospitalizations and hefty doses of antibiotics to expunge. Unfortunately, the bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to treatment.

Oh great: antibiotic-resistant food-poisoning. That’s a joyous prospect.

The latest bad news came in April when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an outbreak of Shigella sonnei that has become resistant to ciprofloxacin—one of the last remaining medications in pill form that can kill the germ. Since then a Scientific American investigation shows the worrisome strain is still circulating in the U.S. a year after it first emerged.

Shigella bacteria typically cause about 500,000 diarrheal illnesses and 40 deaths in the U.S. every year. Children who are malnourished and people with compromised immune systems are particularly at risk of developing severe cases.

The CDC has confirmed 275 cases of ciprofloxacin-resistant shigella across the country from May 2014 to May 2015, according to data obtained exclusively by Scientific American (see chart below). Although these figures appear small, they almost certainly represent but a tiny fraction of the true number of ciprofloxacin-resistant cases. Shigella infections are supposed to be reported to the CDC but a lot of people who get sick do not go to the doctor. And those who do are sometimes not tested for the presence of shigella, let alone drug resistance.

Oh well. We still have HD tv.


  1. says

    Wow, that is bad news. Cipro is recommended as the nuclear defense for anyone traveling in far away areas, the cure-all that will get the job done when all else fails. If cipro stops working, we are in real trouble.

  2. says

    A friend of mine who works at a nurse at a major hospital in a major urban area told me that one of the best things you can do, medically, is stay the hell away from hospitals unless something is falling off or squirting blood. Apparently they get people in there all the time who smear MRSA all over the place. The patient mobility teams and nursing staff are constantly in danger.

    One of my co-workers went in for a relatively straightforward surgery and got some kind of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection that was “cured” by mostly removing one of his buttocks. That’s an unexpected outcome, to say the least.

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