Gay Men in San Francisco Face Shigella Outbreak

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif-Shigella sonnei, a member of the shigella bacteria family, is infecting young gay men at an alarming rate. The bacterium is responsible for causing bloody diarrhea and is being transmitted sexually.

Analyzing the data of 230 confirmed cases in the San Francisco area, the average age of those infected was 39. More than 91% were male and 80% were residents of predominantly homosexual neighborhoods.

A random selection of 20 patients showed that 19 of the infections were resistant to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, tetracycline, ampicillin, suflisoxazole, and streptomycin. All were responsive to ciprofloxacin, nalidixic acid, and ceftriaxone. Patients who are infected with shigella are treated with antibiotics and asked to abstain from sexual behavior until they are no longer infectious.

Shigella can cause diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. Shigella sonnei is considered Group D of the bacteria family and is responsible for more than two-thirds of shigella infections in the US.

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