Rare Bacterial Infection Kills 2 in the US Warns CDC

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Four state authorities have commenced extensive research in conjunction with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to determine how four US citizens were recently infected with a rare disease called melioidosis. Also known as Whitmore’s Disease, melioidosis is a bacterial infection which can lead to severe medical consequences, and has already proven fatal in two instances.

melioidosis infection texas georgia

B. Pseudomallei Causes a Rare But Potentially Deadly Disease

The disease develops from an extremely rare bacterium called Burkholderia Pseudomallei (B. Pseudomallei). As B. Pseudomallei tends to thrive in more tropical temperatures, it is almost unheard-of in the US. Similarly, diagnosis of the disease often proves problematic as its symptoms are frequently very similar to those of tuberculosis- that is according to the latest information from the CDC. Such symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, vomiting, as well as a rash on the face and abdomen.

What States Have Had Melioidosis Outbreaks?

Health authorities in Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota and Texas are investigating four cases which were diagnosed between March and July this year. Of these cases, two victims subsequently died. The other two required lengthy hospitalization and intensive care, and were only recently discharged from hospital. One victim, a four-year-old Texas girl, has been left with brain damage as a direct result of the infection.

Is Burkholderia Pseudomallei or Melioidosis Contagious?

Melioidosis is not believed to be contagious. Rather, it is typically caused by exposure to the B. Pseudomallei bacteria in a contaminated food or water supply. As such, the CDC has indicated that the chances of catching it from another person are “extremely low.” So, who exactly is at risk of contracting the disease? Well, the CDC warns that while healthy people can contract melioidosis, those with underlying medical conditions such as kidney disease and diabetes are particularly vulnerable to infection.

How Common in Melioidosis?

Cases of meliodosis are very rare in the United States. B. Pseudomallei, the bacterium which causes melioidosis, can typically be found in parts of Asia and Australia. This raises significant questions as to how it reached the US, and what its potential impact might be. While none of the four patients are believed to have travelled abroad, it seems that each infection was caused by a strain found in Asia. This is typically contracted by both humans and animals through exposure to contaminated food and water sources. However, the CDC has also indicated that inhaling contaminated water droplets or dust motes are other means by which the disease may be transmitted.

The Symptom of Melioidosis Make the Disease Hard to Diagnose

For most patients, the symptoms of melioidosis vary causing the disease to often be mistaken for others such as tuberculosis. Infected patients often report symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, muscle weakness, vomiting, fever, and rash on the abdomen and face, and abscesses.

If you believe that you or a loved one has contracted melioidosis you need to seek medical care immediately. The CDC believes that a central source is responsible for the most recent outbreak, but has yet to find any signs of contamination. If it is determined that a contaminated products is responsible for the recent infections, an experienced product liability lawyer can help you and your family get the compensation they deserve.

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