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Potentially deadly bacteria detected for the first time in water and soil samples

An official warning was issued after two people were hospitalized after becoming ill.

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (CDC, for its acronym in English) published this Wednesday an alert about the appearance of a potentially deadly bacterium in the Mississippi Gulf Coast region. It is the first time in the United States that the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei has been detected in water samples and soil.

This bacterium causes a severe disease called melioidosis. Melioidosis, known as Whitmore’s disease, is “highly endemic” in Thailand and north of Australia.

Most healthy people who come into contact with the bacteria do not develop the disease. Still, there are a number of conditions that aggravate the condition of patients, such as “diabetes, excessive alcohol consumption, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease, and immunosuppressive conditions”, explain the American experts.

The investigation was launched after two people from southern Mississippi who did not know each other yes, but they lived very close, they were hospitalized with pneumonia sepsis and diagnosed with melioidosis in July 2020 and May 2022. Both patients “were infected with the same new strain from the Western Hemisphere,” the CDC stated. The two residents have since recovered, after receiving antibiotic therapy.

According to statistics, between 10 and 50% of cases of melioidosis result in death. A study in 2019 noted that the disease killed nearly 90,000 people each year and that in Australia’s tropical north, “early recognition, and access to support, have reduced the death rate from the disease to approximately 10% “.

A 2021 study showed that in-hospital mortality from melioidosis in Malaysia exceeds 50%, according to Malaysian researchers.

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