Mike the Mad Biologist wrote a post titled, “Shigella, Children, and Antibiotic Resistance, in which he cites a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC study emphasized the fact that some strains of Shigella, a bacterium that is sometimes foodborne and can lead to serious illness and even death in children and populations with compromised immune systems, have become resistant to antibiotic treatment. From Mike the Mad Biologist’s Post:

In the developed world, shigellosis, a diahrreal disease caused by the bacterial species Shigella, typically isn’t considered dangerous, even though it makes about 450,000 ill in the U.S. To shorten the length of illness and to reduce potential infection of other people, antibiotics are typically prescribed, usually cotrmoxazole or ampicillin. However, recent shigellosis outbreaks are cause for concern (italics mine):

Surveillance data for antimicrobial resistance among all S. sonnei isolates received by NARMS during 1999–2003 indicated that 80% of the isolates were resistant to ampicillin and 47% to TMP/SMX [cotrimoxazole]; 38% were resistant to both drugs (6). In the two outbreaks described in this report, resistance to both ampicillin and TMP/SMX was 89%, complicating shigellosis treatment in these communities.

Mike the Mad Biologist points out that hand washing can prevent Shigella infection, and that a national approach to preventing future outbreaks is necessary, since, “bacteria and viruses really don’t care about state boundaries.” See the Shigella blog for more information about Shigella outbreaks.