The CDC has issued a warning regarding melioidosis, a rare bacterial infection that is typically found in tropical climates, as it has reached the United States. At the time of this article, there have been four cases, two of which have been fatal. The cases are spread between four states: Kansas, Texas, Minnesota, and Georgia.
Melioidosis is a rare, bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. It is widespread throughout northern Australia and Southeast Asia but can thrive in any tropical climate. Both humans and animals can be infected when they come into contact with contaminated water or soil; it is extremely rare for this disease to be passed from person to person. Symptoms typically manifest two to four weeks after infection, although this time can vary widely.
Symptoms also differ depending on what type of infection one has. A localized infection causes abscesses, ulceration, fever, and localized fever and swelling. If the infection reaches the pulmonary system, the symptoms include headache, anorexia, high fever, cough, and chest pain. A bloodstream infection brings effects like respiratory distress, abdominal discomfort, fever, disorientation, joint pain, and headache. Lastly, a disseminated infection leads to symptoms like weight loss, seizures, headaches, fever, muscle/joint pain, stomach/chest pain, and infection of the central nervous system or brain.
Treatment consists of two steps. The first is intravenous antimicrobial therapy, which lasts for a minimum of two weeks. The second step is oral antimicrobial therapy, which a patient will receive for three to six months.
Melioidosis in the United States
According to the CDC, four people have been infected with the rare tropical disease, two of which have died. The cases were reported in Kansas, Georgia, Texas, and Minnesota. Experts are puzzled by all cases, as none of the affected individuals have traveled internationally.
The warning goes on to urge doctors to consider a melioidosis diagnosis if their patient is facing a bacterial infection that doesn’t respond well to antibiotics.
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