The Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) issued a warning about Melioidosis, a contagious disease in Texas caused by the Burkholderia Pseudomallei bacterium.
The CDC has confirmed that Health authorities from multiple states (including Texas) struggled to find a common source of exposure to several cases of a deadly disease caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei bacterium. Known as Melioidosis (or Whitmore's Disease), it can be extremely contagious, and multiple cases were found in Texas, Georgia, Kansas, and Minnesota. Quoting the CDC:
"The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Texas Department of State Health Services continue to investigate the three previous cases with assistance from CDC. The four cases include both children and adults. Two cases are female, and two cases are male. The first case, which was fatal, was identified in March 2021 in Kansas. The second and third cases, both identified in May 2021 in Minnesota and Texas, were hospitalized for extended periods of time before being discharged to transitional care facilities. The most recent case died in the hospital and was identified post-mortem in late July 2021 in Georgia. None of the cases had a history of traveling outside of the continental United States."
According to scientific studies, regions of the southern United States, particularly Texas, may have the perfect climate to host B. pseudomallei. It would be necessary to identify the bacteria in environmental samples in order to ascertain if it is endemic in the United States; nevertheless, it is also conceivable that it is present somewhere in Texas and has just not been discovered yet.
This is not the first time that a patient has been diagnosed with melioidosis in Texas. After experiencing respiratory failure and severe renal damage, a 63-year-old man in Atascosa County, Texas, was diagnosed with melioidosis in 2018. The patient's only journey outside of Texas was a trip to Monterrey, Mexico 30 years prior. In another case, an 82-year-old man from the same county in Texas was diagnosed with melioidosis in 2004 despite having no recent overseas travel history. However, he may have been exposed to B. pseudomallei 62 years ago as a prisoner of war in Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand during World War II, according to an investigation.
Research shows that Melioidosis can be contracted by coming into close contact with polluted soil or water. Inhalation of contaminated dust or water droplets, ingestion of dirty water, ingestion of soil-infected food, or contact with contaminated soil are thought to be the routes of infection for humans and animals.
According to HealthLine, Symptoms of Melioidosis to watch out for can include:
- Stomach or chest pain.
- Ulcers on or below the skin.
The CDC says "the time between an exposure to the bacteria that causes the disease and the emergence of symptoms is not clearly defined but may range from one day to many years; generally, symptoms appear two to four weeks after exposure. Although healthy people may get melioidosis, underlying medical conditions may increase the risk of diseases."
According to WebMD, people with underlying medical conditions can include "People with compromised immune systems (such as AIDS, cancer, those undergoing chemotherapy, etc.), open skin wounds, diabetes, or chronic renal disease should avoid contact with soil and contaminated water, especially in farm areas."
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