WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an alert Friday warning of the spread of a strain of the shigella bacteria that appears to be resistant to antibiotics.

In 2022, approximately 5% of shigellosis infections were drug-resistant, or XDR, up from zero reported instances of resistant infections in 2015, according to the CDC.

The CDC’s alert says shigellosis usually causes inflammatory diarrhea that can be bloody and may also lead to fever and abdominal cramping.

“It lasts about five to seven days,” Janet Hill, Chief Operating Officer at the Rock Island County Health Department told Nexstar’s WHBF. “It must be confirmed by a lab test and it is a nationally notifiable disease so that’s why the CDC is sounding the alarms because there are increased cases throughout the country.”

The bacteria, according to the CDC, are transmitted by fecal-to-oral contact, person-to-person contact, and through sexual activity.

This illustration made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the Shigella bacteria. (AP Photo/CDC)

Shigellosis usually affects young children aged 1-4 in the U.S., but the CDC has seen an increase in the following groups:

  • Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Frequent International travelers
  • People living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

While most people with diarrheal illness only needed “supportive care and fluid replacement,” the CDC said healthcare providers should consults with specialists to “determine the best treatment plan.”

“Most cases do not require antibiotics to be treated, usually it’s just waiting it out and it could be five to seven days of pretty miserable conditions,” said Hill. “This particular strain is showing some antibiotic resistance, which is just another reminder that when you are prescribed an antibiotic, it’s really important to take it as directed for the full time that your medical provider has said.”

To avoid contracting or spreading the bacteria, the CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and water, especially in the following circumstances:

  • Before any sexual activity
  • Before preparing food or eating
  • After going to the bathroom, changing a diaper, or cleaning up after someone who went to the bathroom

“If your diarrhea lasts longer than usual or if it’s bloody or accompanied with severe stomach cramping, get to the doctor to determine whether it’s a run-of-the-mill norovirus or if it’s shigellosis,” Hill explained.

The CDC also advised healthcare professionals to report all confirmed cases to their local health department.

In 2015, the agency issued a warning regarding multidrug-resistant Shigella that was beginning to spread in the U.S., brought in by international travelers.

According to CBS, authorities were warning of an outbreak affecting hundreds of those returning to the U.S. and Europe after spending time at resorts in Cabo Verde. The U.K. also recently reported a high number of cases countrywide.

Earlier this month, health officials in Colorado confirmed they had been monitoring Shigella cases, Nexstar’s KSRM reports. The CDC has not yet said where other cases have been confirmed in the U.S.