Stomach bug cases increasing in Central Florida as CDC warns of a drug-resistant bacteria
Although there has been an increase in bugs like norovirus in the Orlando region, hospitals have not reported treating the drug-resistant Shigella bacteria.
Reports of stomach bugs are growing throughout the country.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health warning regarding Shigella bacteria, which is drug-resistant and causes severe, bloody diarrhea. It is commonly spread through fecal matter either in person-to-person contact or contaminated food.
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Orlando Health, Nemours Children Hospital and Central Florida AdventHealth have not observed any Shigella hospitalizations.
However, AdventHealth Centra Care has seen an increase in stomach bugs, mostly norovirus, said Dr. Timothy Hendrix, medical director for the health system's network of family and urgent care clinics.
“We've seen an increase in diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, what we call gastroenteritis, probably about a 23% increase in the last couple of weeks and the number of people coming into Centra Care with intestinal symptoms,” Hendrix said.
The norovirus typically shows increased levels of infection in winter, Hendrix said.
Why is the CDC concerned with Shigella?
Shigella is an extensively drug-resistant bacteria, according to the CDC.
"We're seeing more drug resistance by Shigella and salmonella, salmonella and E. coli, etc. These types of intestinal bacteria because all bacteria are now developing, and you know this resistance to certain types of antibiotics," Hendrix said.
Because of the bacteria's resistance, the CDC currently does not have treatment recommendations.
How does someone get infected?
It is transmitted via a fecal-oral route, directly through person-to-person contact including sexual contact, and indirectly through contaminated food and water.
Historically, Shigella is observed in children ages 1 to 4, but the CDC has been seeing increased Shigella infections in older populations such as men having sex with men, international travelers, people experiencing homelessness, or those in the HIV community.
What are the symptoms?
Shigellosis causes inflammatory diarrhea that can be bloody. Fever, abdominal cramping, and tenesmus are also common symptoms, according to the CDC.
How to protect yourself
"Most intestinal infections caused by other viruses or bacteria run the course and ... usually resolve on their own," Hendrix said. “But if you're getting any symptoms of diarrhea, abdominal cramps, blood in this stool, fever, increasing severity, or diarrhea that's not resolving after a few days, that's the time to get into Centra Care."
Handwashing is very effective in avoiding Shigella, which is transmissible through person-to-person contact or contaminated food. Hendrix says if you are experiencing diarrhea for more than 24 hours, get seen by a medical provider.
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