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Potentially Dangerous Bacteria Found In US Gulf Coast, Warning Issued

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Potentially Dangerous Bacteria Found In US Gulf Coast, Warning Issued

The bacteria cause melioidosis, which can have a wide range of symptoms.(Representational Pic)

US health authorities are closely monitoring a dangerous bacteria that causes lethal melioidosis after it made its way to the country’s Gulf Coast. Centres for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed three cases of infection from the bacteria Burkholderia pseudomallei, which has a 50 per cent fatality rate. While two cases were confirmed in a Mississippi county in May and July of 2020, the most recent one was reported from the same county in the US state in January this year.

“It is an environmental organism that lives naturally in the soil, and typically freshwater in certain areas around the world. Mostly in subtropical and tropical climates,” Julia Petras, an epidemic intelligence service officer with CDC’s National Centre for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, was quoted as saying by New York Post.

The health office further said that those infected with the bacteria don’t show symptoms and develop antibodies against it, “meaning many more are likely infected”.

The Post report said that all the three patients have recovered.

“This is one of those diseases that is also called the great mimicker because it can look like a lot of different things. It’s greatly under-reported and under-diagnosed and under-recognised – we often like to say that it’s been the neglected, neglected tropical disease,” Ms Petras said.

What is melioidosis?

Also called the Whitmore’s disease, it can infect humans and animals. People are typically infected by the bacteria through open wounds or by inhaling the germs during a strong storm. 

Those with diabetes or kidney and liver problems are most at risk.

According to CDC, melioidosis is a disease of tropical climates, especially in Southeast Asia and northern Australia. It is very rare for people to get the disease from another person, the health agency added.

Melioidosis can have a wide range of symptoms. Localised pain or swelling, fever, ulcers, cough, chest pain, high fever and headache are the common symptoms.

It can also cause abdominal discomfort, joint pain, disorientation and seizures.

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