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Rare disease caused by bacteria found in US for the first time; CDC issues health advisory

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory to clinicians on Wednesday after discovering the bacteria responsible for a rare but serious disease for the first time in the continental United States. B. pseudomallei or Burkholderia pseudomallei was found in puddle water and soil samples in southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast region during an investigation into two human melioidosis cases.

The household products and the environment surrounding the homes of two people who became ill due to the same bacteria because they lived in close geographic proximity were investigated. As a result of the bacteria, they began to experience nonspecific symptoms such as fever, headaches, and joint pain. There are approximately 12 cases per year in the United States, most of which are related to travel to tropical and subtropical regions.

Melioidosis caused blood infections, abscess formation, and pneumonia in four people across four states after being linked to an imported contaminated aromatherapy spray. Although most healthy people do not develop melioidosis, the global death rate for those who come into contact with the bacteria ranges between 10% and 50%. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised people in southern Mississippi to take extra precautions, citing underlying conditions such as excessive alcohol use, chronic lung or kidney disease, and diabetes.

The CDC emphasises that the risk of melioidosis for the general population remains very low, but precautions include wearing waterproof boots and gloves while gardening, dressing open wounds, and avoiding contact with soil and muddy water.


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