Shigella: What to Know About America's New Drug-Resistant Bug

This stomach bug isn't deadly, but it's becoming antibiotic resistant, CDC says.

— -- News that a stomach bug is becoming resistant to antibiotics is alarming, but before you start fearing the so-called new bug, there are a few things you should know.

Here's what to keep in mind:

The bug is not new.

The rest of the world has been dealing with this antibiotic resistant strain for years, said Dr. Amy Edwards, an infectious disease specialist at U.H. Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, adding that it's not surprising that it's finally reached the United States.

Others agree."This is the next story on yet another bug that has developed resistance to multiple antibiotics," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. "In addition, it's a global problem because people are traveling abroad acquiring this bug with multiple resistant aspects and bringing it back to us and spreading it in the United States. So there are several new twists about this."

It spreads easily.

"Shigella is a bug that's spread from person to person very, very readily," Schaffner said. "It doesn't take much of the bug to initiate an infection, and it produces quite an unpleasant diarrheal illness."

When it gets into a daycare in the United States, he said, it usually spreads among children before hitting mothers a little more frequently than fathers because they're often in closer contact with the sick children.

The reason it's so contagious is that it's resistant to your stomach acid, Case Medical Center ‘s Edwards said. As a result, it doesn't take much to make someone sick.

But it's not usually deadly.

"Most cases get better in two, three, maybe four days on their own," Edwards said. "The vast majority of people recover OK."

In rare cases, a patient can die after they become dehydrated, which affects their bio-mechanics, Schaffner said. He added that young children, the elderly and people with underlying health conditions are most at risk for developing severe illness and life-threatening complications.

There's a big picture threat, however.

"This is one of those problems that doesn't always rise to the top of people's day-to-day concerns until somebody in the family is impacted," President Obama told reporters last Friday. "We take antibiotics for granted for a lot of illnesses that can be deadly or debilitating."

"Without urgent, coordinated action, the world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries, which have been treatable for decades, can once again kill," the organization said following its 2014 report on the subject.

"It has to be everybody or it's not going to work," Edwards said. "This is a problem, and it's becoming a bigger problem. It's something that until somebody does something about it, it's going to keep getting worse."