CDC confirms 2nd death caused by rare bacterial disease

Erica Carbajal - Print  | 

A patient in Georgia died from melioidosis — a rare bacterial infection, the CDC said Aug. 9. The infection is associated with three earlier cases in other states, including one other fatal case.

Around a dozen melioidosis cases are identified in the U.S. each year, according to the CDC. 

Nine more details: 

1. Genomic sequencing showed the Georgia case is closely linked to three earlier cases in Kansas, Texas and Minnesota. 

2. The cases involved both adults and children. A total of two patients died from the infection. 

3. While the strains that sickened the patients are closely related to those found in Asia, none of the patients had recently traveled internationally. 

4. The agency tested more than 100 samples for Burkholderia Pseudomallei, the bacteria that causes melioidosis, also known as Whitmore's disease. None of the samples — taken from products, soil, and water in and around the patients' homes — tested positive for the bacteria. 

5. "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 agency's statement said. While the bacteria usually live in moist soil and water, in some cases, it's been found to contaminate products in areas where the bacteria are common. 

6. Major risk factors for the infection include diabetes, liver or kidney disease, chronic lung disease, cancer and other immunocompromising conditions. Most children who become infected, however, do not have such risk factors. 

7. The disease can be spread to humans and animals through direct contact with a contaminated source, such as inhalation of contaminated dust or water droplets, ingestion of contaminated water or food, and skin abrasions. 

8. The time between exposure to the bacteria and illness onset ranges from one day to many years, which can make it difficult to identify the source of infection, according to the CDC. Symptoms are also wide ranging as there are several types of melioidosis infection. 

9. Treatment typically includes an IV antimicrobial therapy followed by several months of an oral antimicrobial therapy. 

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