Cases of melioidosis, usually referred to as Whitmore’s disease, were found in Georgia, Texas, Kansas, and Minnesota.
What We Know:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently investigating two deaths from the rare bacterial disease only found in tropical climates. Recently, the CDC announced a new fatal case of Whitmore’s disease in Georgia. They also reported three other cases in Texas, Kansas, and Minnesota; each occurrence’s genome sequencing matched closely. Out of the four people diagnosed, two died.
- The appearance of melioidosis in the United States seems odd to the CDC, as the strain found is usually seen in South Asia. However, the infected individuals told officials they did not travel internationally.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes the infection came to the U.S. via an imported product or one of its ingredients. In addition, the CDC explained that although melioidosis lives in moist soil and water, it can contaminate wet or moist products in locations common to the bacteria.
- The CDC warns doctors to look out for Whitmore’s disease even in patients with no travel history. It also asks them to watch for it in children, as one of the cases was a 4-year-old girl from Texas; the child spent weeks on a ventilator due to melioidosis, and now suffers brain damage from it. Symptoms to look out for include cough, chest pain, high fever, headache, and unexplained weight loss.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention face difficulty in researching Whitmore’s disease. Since patients begin showing symptoms two to three weeks after transmission, they may have a hard time figuring out how they got sick.