The CDC is currently looking into three cases of melioidosis throughout the United States, according to an article published in MSN. This rare, bacterial infection is mainly found in the tropical climates of Southeast Asia and northern Australia, so the cases in the U.S. are cause for concern. While the CDC is currently unsure of how these three people contracted the infection, they believe it could be from the same source.
Cases of Melioidosis in the United States
Currently, three cases of melioidosis have been reported within the U.S. since March. One male and two females were infected, one of whom has passed away. Of the remaining cases, one is still in the hospital while the other has been moved to a transitional care unit.
The CDC is unsure as to what infected these three individuals, as they come from different areas of the country: Minnesota, Kansas, and Texas. Additionally, none of them had left the continental U.S., much less traveled to a region where melioidosis is common. The current theory is that an imported animal or product may have been infected and transmitted the rare disease to the three affected individuals. Further investigation should reveal the definitive cause.
Melioidosis, also known as Whitmore’s disease, is a bacterial infection caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei. It holds the potential to infect animals and humans and is spread through contact with contaminated soil or water. Human-to-human transmission is very uncommon. This infection is very rare in the United States, as it is most common in tropical climates. It is most common in northern Australia and Southeast Asia, but it occurs naturally in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as well. About a dozen cases are reported within the United States each year, and they are typically linked to travel or immigration from these areas of the world.
There are multiple forms of this infection, and they each come with their own symptoms. The pulmonary infection causes headaches, chest pain, cough, high fever, and anorexia, while the localized infection leads to abscesses, fever, localized swelling or pain, and ulceration. The disseminated infection causes weight loss, fever, seizures, infections of the brain or central nervous system, headaches, and pain in the stomach, chest, muscles, and joints. Lastly, the bloodstream infection includes symptoms like respiratory distress, headache, disorientation, pain in the joints, fever, and abdominal discomfort.
Treatment for this condition consists of IV antimicrobial therapy, which lasts for up to eight weeks and is followed by three to six months of oral antimicrobial therapy. Fortunately, there are alternative treatment courses for those with allergies to these therapies, such as penicillin.