The bacterium behind the potentially deadly disease melioidosis has been found for the first time on US soil, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says announced (opens in new tab) Wednesday (July 27).
Historically, the bacteriacalled Burkholderia pseudomallei, has been observed primarily in Southeast Asia and northern Australia, where the highest number of cases of melioidosis occur each year, although the bacterium is also found in certain areas of Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Central and South America. In an average year, only about 12 cases of melioidosis occur in the United States, and these cases can usually be associated with international travel to a country where B. pseudomallei frequently growing, or contaminated imported products. For example, in 2021, two people became ill and two others died after using one imported aromatherapy spray contaminated with bacteria.
But now health officials have discovered the bacteria in soil and water samples collected in the Gulf Coast region of southern Mississippi.
“Once firmly anchored in the ground, B. pseudomallei cannot be removed from the soil,” the CDC said in its health advisory.
The CDC began testing soil and water in Mississippi B. pseudomallei after two unrelated people in the area contracted melioidosis, the disease caused by B. pseudomallei which can have a variety of symptoms and is fatal in up to half of the diagnosed cases worldwide. The melioidosis cases occurred two years apart, in July 2020 and May 2022, and none of the individuals had traveled outside the US prior to being infected.
Both patients had to be hospitalized after developing intense, body-wide pain immune reaction (sepsis) due to lung infection, and both recovered after treatment with antibiotics. Genetic testing revealed that both patients were infected with the same strain B. pseudomallei.
With the patients’ permission, the CDC and the Mississippi State Department of Health and Human Services collected soil, water, and plants from the patients’ household products, properties, and nearby areas. Soil and puddle water from the patient’s property from 2020 tested positive for a genetically similar B. pseudomallei Burden for those who caught both patients.
Based on these results, the CDC concluded that “environmental bacteria were the likely source of infection for both individuals and have been present in the area since at least 2020.”
Humans can become infected with B. pseudomallei if the bacteria come into contact with an open cut or abrasion on the skin. They can also become infected by breathing in contaminated water droplets or dust particles, ingesting contaminated water droplets, or eating food grown in contaminated soil.
In regions where B. pseudomallei widespread and people are often exposed, most healthy people who come into contact with the bacteria never develop melioidosis, the CDC found; In other words, contact with the bacteria does not always lead to illness. people with weakened immune systems, diabetescancer, the inherited blood disorder thalassemia, and liverkidney or lung have a higher risk of becoming ill and dying after exposure. Excessive alcohol consumption also increases the risk of severe melioidosis, according to the CDC.
Melioidosis can cause a variety of symptoms, including fever, localized pain or swelling, ulcers, abscesses on the skin and in various organs, cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, weight loss, abdominal discomfort, muscle and joint pain, disorientation, headache, and seizures. Infections in the lungs can lead to pneumonia, and infections in the bloodstream can lead to septic shock, Live Science previously reported. According to the CDC, approximately 10% to 50% of diagnosed cases of melioidosis worldwide result in death.
If you live on or are visiting the Mississippi Gulf Coast, especially if you have any of the conditions listed above, the CDC recommends taking the following precautions to protect yourself:
- Avoid contact with soil or muddy water, especially after heavy rains.
- Use waterproof bandages to protect open wounds, cuts, or burns from contact with soil or water. If open wounds, cuts, or burns come in contact with soil, wash them thoroughly.
- If you have diabetes, pay attention to foot care and avoid contamination of foot wounds or other open wounds. Wear shoes and gloves when working in the garden or outdoors (e.g. gardening or farm work).
- If you work or play outside, wear waterproof boots during and after floods or storms, which can help prevent infection through the feet and lower legs.
- Visit your doctor or go to the emergency room if you are sick and have signs or symptoms of melioidosis. It can be treated with antibiotics, which your doctor can prescribe for you.
- If you are diagnosed with melioidosis, make sure you take all the antibiotics your doctor has prescribed.
- Drink safe water; Do not drink water directly from shallow wells, lakes, rivers, ponds and streams.
Originally published on Live Science.
Bacteria behind melioidosis, a deadly tropical disease, found in US for 1st time Source link Bacteria behind melioidosis, a deadly tropical disease, found in US for 1st time