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Deadly Bacteria Found in Mississippi Soil


A petri plate containing multiple colonies of Gram-negative Burkholderia pseudomallei bacteria. | Image by the CDC

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an official health advisory on Wednesday after the discovery of a bacterium in the Gulf Coast region of southern Mississippi that is known to cause a serious disease called melioidosis. The bacterium, known as Burkholderia pseudomallei (B. pseudomallei), was previously linked only to tropical regions.

The health alert is intended to inform healthcare professionals and public health authorities across the nation that melioidosis should be considered in patients whose clinical presentation is consistent with the disease’s signs and symptoms, regardless of travel history to countries where the illness is endemic. 

The CDC became aware of the possibility of B. pseudomallei in the Gulf Coast area after two unrelated men in Mississippi were diagnosed with melioidosis, one in July 2020 and the other in May 2022. The two patients lived about 10 miles apart, and neither had recently left the country.

Both patients had melioidosis risk factors and were hospitalized with sepsis brought on by pneumonia. The same strain of B. pseudomallei was found in both patients’ blood cultures, and they both recovered after receiving the proper antibiotic therapy.

The gram-negative bacterium was detected through an environmental sampling of soil and water in Mississippi. The state health department and the CDC collected environmental samples from the patients’ properties and areas they frequented and discovered the B. pseudomallei bacterium in three of the samples taken from the property of the 2020 patient.

The bacterium isolates from the samples and the patients’ blood cultures were all genetically similar, indicating that the bacteria from the environment was the probable source of the infection. Officials say the bacterium is likely in other spots along the Gulf Coast as well. 

Each year, the United States reports about 12 cases of melioidosis. Most cases have occurred in tourists who visited regions where the bacteria is endemic, including parts of Australia, Thailand, and Central and South America.

A few cases of melioidosis in the United States have been brought on by contact with commercial goods imported from nations where the disease is common. This happened in 2021 when an imported contaminated aromatherapy spray was found to be responsible for a cluster of four cases spread over four states.

Common symptoms of melioidosis include fever, localized pain or swelling, ulceration, abscess, cough, chest pain, respiratory distress, weight loss, abdominal discomfort, muscle or joint pain, confusion, headaches, and seizures. Melioidosis can lead to death if left untreated. 

Most patients present with an acute sickness, but 9% present with chronic infection, with symptoms lasting longer than two months. Clinically, cases of chronic melioidosis sometimes resemble tuberculosis.

Melioidosis is spread by direct contact with a source contaminated with B. pseudomallei, such as soil or water, and is not commonly spread by human-to-human contact.

The CDC offers more information on melioidosis on its website. 

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2 months ago

HERE WE GO AGAIN. Da guvmint Demorats losing the COVID scare power then came monkey pox and this. WATCH OUT!

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