Justin Bullock, FISM News
The CDC has reported four cases and two deaths related to a bacteria spread through water and soil typically found in South Asia and Australia. This bacteria has never migrated to America before as it was previously thought to only be able to survive in tropical climates. As none of the four patients have traveled outside of the country, it is suspected that the bacteria spread from contact with a contaminated product. The CDC has alerted doctors to be on the lookout for additional cases.
CDC has collected and tested more than 100 samples from products, soil, and water in and around the patients’ homes. No samples have yet been positive for the bacteria Burkholderia pseudomallei, which causes melioidosis. Currently, CDC believes the most likely cause is an imported product (such as a food or drink, personal care or cleaning products or medicine) or an ingredient in one of those types of products. The bacteria normally lives in moist soil and water. However, in rare cases, it has also been found to contaminate wet or moist products in the areas where the bacteria are common. Identifying a single source of infection may be difficult because: 1. The patients are spread apart by geography and time their illness began. 2. Each could have been exposed to potentially hundreds of products before they became ill. 3. Unlike the germs that cause most foodborne outbreaks, the bacteria responsible for melioidosis can take two to three weeks to make someone sick. This expands the window of time that investigators need to explore and means people may be less likely to remember everything they were exposed to before becoming ill. CDC is asking clinicians to watch for any acute bacterial infection that doesn’t respond to normal antibiotics and consider melioidosis – regardless of whether the patient traveled outside the United States. CDC also urges clinicians not to rule out melioidosis as a possible diagnosis in children and those who were previously healthy and without known risk factors for melioidosis.
The CDC went on to list known normal symptoms for the disease saying that symptoms can include a cough, shortness of breath, weakness, vomiting, fever, and rash on the abdomen and the face.