Drug-Resistant Food Poisoning Is Here, and it’s Incredibly Dangerous

An outbreak of Shigella, a bacterial food poisoning, is especially scary because it is resistant to multiple drugs
Drug-Resistant Food Poisoning Is Here, and it’s Incredibly Dangerous
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Shigella sounds like a comic book villain, but this real threat is just as scary.

The public and the media are just getting over our looming fear of Ebola, and now we have something new to worry about: drug-resistant food poisoning. If you have ever gotten food poisoning, you know that it’s no picnic, and that it can oftentimes even warrant a hospital visit. But a drug-resistant strain of food poisoning-causing bacteria is even scarier. The Center for Disease Control is warning Americans against a new breed of  the bacteria called Shigella that shows resistance to even the most powerful drugs available.

Shigellosis, a type of food poisoning caused by this specific bacterium, is known to cause diarrhea, and is spread through contaminated food, pools, and ponds, according to the CDC. Outbreaks usually occur in day care centers or pre-schools, or in restaurants where food is assembled by hand. The infection is easily transmittable. This particular strain is resistant to ciprofloxacin, or “cipro,” the popular treatment for most varieties of Shigella. The non-lethal illness generally wreaks havoc on its victims’ bodies for one week, and is resistant to 90 percent of medicine used to fight foodbourne illness.. So far in 2015, 157 cases in 32 states have been identified.

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"If rates of resistance become this high, in more places, we'll have very few options left for treating Shigella with antibiotics by mouth," epidemiologist Anna Bowen told NPR. At that point, treatment will have to be administered by IV.