On the shores of the Mississippi Gulf, two people tested positive for melioidosis, a disease caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei.
A rare bacterium that causes a life-threatening infection has been identified for the first time in the United States environment, alerted this Wednesday the Mississippi State Department of Health after a joint investigation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The investigation was carried out after two individuals living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast tested positive for melioidosis, a rare disease caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. Although the two fell ill two years apart, soil samples collected from around their homes tested positive for the bacteria, indicating that the environment itself was the likely source of infection, according to the researchers.
“Normally we see these bacteria in countries where they are endemic or appear frequently. Burkholderia pseudomallei usually occurs in tropical and subt tropical, such as Southeast Asia or Central or South America. Due to the identification of this bacteria on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, people at high risk of serious infection who live there should take recommended precautions,” said state epidemiologist Paul Byers.
Melioidosis is an infectious disease caused by direct contact with bacteria present in contaminated soil or water. Symptoms include fever, headache and joint pain. It can cause pneumonia and blood infections.
Although most healthy people who come into contact with Burkholderia pseudomallei never develop melioidosis, those with chronic kidney or lung disease, as well as diabetes, and those who consume in excess of alcohol, they may be at risk of serious illness from the infection, experts warned.