What is melioidosis? CDC warns after bacteria found in MS

The bacteria was found on the property after a Mississippi man became ill, but officials say it’s likely to be present elsewhere along the Gulf Coast.

NEW YORK — A microbe that causes a rare and sometimes fatal disease — long thought to be confined to tropical climates — has been found in soil and water in the continental United States. US health officials said Wednesday.

The bacterium was found on the property of a Mississippi man who had melioidosis. Officials don’t know how long it has been there, but they say it likely occurs in other areas along the Gulf Coast.

US physicians should consider myeloidosis even in patients who have not traveled to other countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in a health alert.

“Once it’s in the soil, it can pose a health threat to people in the area,” said Julia Petras of the CDC, who oversaw the research.

The disease can start with a wide range of symptoms such as fever, joint pain and headache. If diagnosed in time, it can be treated with appropriate antibiotics, but if not treated properly, it can lead to pneumonia, blood infection, and even death.

About 12 cases are reported in the United States each year, with the vast majority in people who have traveled to places where the bacteria is endemic, including certain areas of Australia, Thailand, and Central and South America.

People can contract the disease through direct contact with contaminated soil and water, especially if they have cuts on their hands or feet. It is also possible to inhale bacteria.

This bacteria may not bother healthy people. But it can be dangerous for people with diabetes, chronic kidney or lung disease, and a weakened immune system.

Last year, four people contracted the disease, even though none had traveled abroad. Officials attribute their illnesses to contaminated aromatherapy spray imported from India.

The new findings explain the two Mississippi cases in men who had not traveled abroad, officials said. One was diagnosed with melioidosis in 2020 and another who lives about 10 miles away was diagnosed this year. Both have improved.

Health officials did not say exactly where in Mississippi the people lived, but investigators took 109 soil and water samples from the area. The bacterium was found in three places – two in the soil and one in a ditch – on the property of a man who became ill two years ago.

Finding bacteria in US soil is significant, but not surprising. Researchers have long believed that local soil contamination caused infections in Atascosa County, Texas, in 2004 and 2018, CDC officials said.

The Associated Press Health and Science Section is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Education Division. AP is solely responsible for all content.

(Visited 2 times, 1 visits today)

Related posts

Leave a Comment