Travelers from overseas have brought back an unwelcome present for us all: a particularly rough stomach bug that is now spreading across the US. Bonus: This strain of Shigella is resistant to the go-to antibiotic in such cases, ciprofloxacin, or Cipro. A CDC report says the agency has tracked 243 cases in 32 states between May of last year and February of this year. Massachusetts, California, and Pennsylvania have seen the worst of it, and 20% of patients had to be hospitalized. The CDC thinks the illness was brought back to the US from travelers to India, the Dominican Republic, Morocco, and elsewhere, reports NPR. But the disease is so contagious that it's quickly spreading beyond those initial contacts.
"If rates of resistance become this high, in more places, we'll have very few options left for treating shigella with antibiotics by mouth," says lead researcher Anna Bowen. IV antibiotics would follow. Shigella causes diarrhea, cramps, and vomiting and spreads easily through contaminated food and water, including pools and ponds, reports the AP. In most cases, it goes away on its own after about a week. In its report, the CDC advises those traveling abroad to be extra vigilant about washing their hands, watching what they eat, and using over-the-counter treatments such as Pepto-Bismol before grabbing Cipro. (Read more food poisoning stories.)