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What doctors say you need to know about Shigella, the drug-resistant stomach bug causing serious concerns

The CDC is calling a new form of the bacteria a 'serious public health threat.'

CLEVELAND — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a new strain of the Shigella bacteria, that is extensively drug-resistant, is responsible for rising cases in the United States.

"This is something we really need to be cautious about," Cleveland Clinic infectious disease specialist Dr. Kristin Englund warned.

The bacteria that causes stomach pain, diarrhea, and fever isn't new, but according to Englund, this particular drug-resistant strain is. Statistics show it's responsible for 5% of all cases, compared to zero in 2015.

"For those people who might have more of a weakened immune system or might develop a worse case of Shigella, we may not have the antibiotics that we need to treat them," Englund told 3News, "so we need to be careful about preventing these Shigella infections."

She says spread can often be seen around day care workers who frequently change diapers and food service workers who don't practice proper hand hygiene. The CDC claims most recent cases are among men who have sex with men, similar to what we recently saw with mpox. 

"It is not something that is limited to men who have sex with men," she added, "but this is where we're starting to see the outbreaks, especially of those with multi-drug resistant Shigella."

While pockets of cases have popping up around parts of the country like Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, Englund says there hasn't been an outbreak in Northeast Ohio as of yet.

"As with anything, it's always better to exercise caution and prevention rather than waiting for us to find a cure," she admitted.

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