US health officials said that they are investigating the rare tropical disease found mostly in South Asia.
As the medical mystery grows worse, one more patient died in July 2021. Health agencies have confirmed that it is one among the four recent fatalities due to a rare tropical health condition. A bacterium named melioidosis causes this condition and it is mostly found in South Asia. The germ lives in water and soil.
The patient remains unidentified. He died last month in Georgia. What worries experts is that none among the four patients who died; from Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota, or Texas had a history of international travel. CDC had reported that two patients died of the condition.
The US To Investigate The Latest Case Of A Rare Tropical Health Condition
Federal officials alerted doctors about the disease. They recommend that they consider the possibility of melioidosis if they don’t respond to antibiotics. The advice applies even if they don’t have a history of travel. CDC said that the disease can be cured. Doctors have to diagnose it correctly at the earliest.
The deaths happened in different States on different dates. But lab tests showed that the infections had a close connection.
Here is what the agency has to say about the disease:
The bacterium called Burkholderia pseudomallei causes Melioidosis, also called Whitmore’s disease. The disease is found mostly in tropical climates, in the places like Northern Australia and Southeast Asia. It spreads through soil and water. Inhaling droplets of water, dust, and drinking contaminated water causes health conditions. The bacteria, according to CDC, don’t spread through the air or respiratory droplets.
Your doctor may mistake this condition as any other disease like tuberculosis. Its symptoms vary. Still, the following are the ones seen in the patients who died recently:
- Shortness of breath
- Rashes on face and abdomen
People with underlying health conditions are at high risk of the disease. It, however, can affect even the healthy. Following are the perceived risk factors of melioidosis:
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Kidney diseases
Samples of the bacterial strains seen in the patients closely matched with each other. They also resembled the ones found in Southeast Asia. None among them had recently traveled anywhere. The agency checked the soil, water, and products from around the patients’ homes. None among them was positive for the bacterial strain.
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This leads to the conclusion; the disease may have come from an imported product. It can either be food, drink, a cleaning/personal care product, or medicine. An ingredient contained in such products too may cause trouble.
Melioidosis prefers moist soil. But it has also been found in wet products.
CDC also observes that difference in location and time of infection makes it difficult to pinpoint from where they got the infection. It takes up to 21 days for the symptoms to appear after the patient has been exposed to these bacteria.
A study done in 2016 suggests that the disease affects mostly 165,000 people every year. 89000 people succumb to it.
Don’t hesitate to see your doctor if you experience the symptoms like fever, chest pain, or unexpected loss of weight.
Do the following to protect yourself:
- Avoid contact with soil or standing water if you have any open wound or a kidney problem.
- Wear boots when working in your field. This eliminates the possibility of infection through your feet.
- For health professionals, standard precautionary measures will work fine.
There may be other precautions you should take based on your health condition. Abide by the instructions you receive from your general practitioner.