Don’t panic but raise your alert: US health officials, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), have announced the presence of the bacterium in the land and waters of the southern United States for the first time. Burkholderia pseudomallei, agent of melioidosis. It is already a rare and serious disease in Southeast Asia and northern Australia, responsible for about 165,000 cases and 89,000 deaths each year.
Other states affected?
The alert began in 2020 and then continued until 2022, when two cases of the disease were reported in unrelated people living nearby in the Gulf Coast region. After this, health officials in the region, with the consent of the patients, took various tests, soil and water samples in their homes and their surroundings and then put them in the culture.
identification of bacteria Burkholderia pseudomallei Ultimately confirmed in various domestic environmental samples. But the CDC says it does not know how long it has been present in this environment or whether it can now be found elsewhere in the United States.
An investigation is still underway but early results from modeling studies suggest that environmental conditions found in warm and humid Gulf Coast states are favorable for the growth of the infectious agent. Further evidence of the effects of global warming, has already been raised in 2016. A study was published then Nature Microbiology actually indicated that the condition could be largely underestimated and could eventually be as deadly as dengue fever and measles.
Precautions to limit risk
To date, the CDC has urged people on the Mississippi Gulf Coast with health conditions that could put them at higher risk (diabetes, chronic kidney disease, chronic lung disease, excessive alcohol consumption) to protect themselves. Take precautions (see box below).
They encourage doctors across the country to learn about melioidosis and become aware of its possible presence. They should always report any case to the health authorities, as the disease deserves national attention.
Melioidosis, how to protect yourself?
Also called Whitmore’s disease, melioidosis is characterized by severe respiratory infection and sepsis, with an estimated mortality rate of between 10% and 50%. It mainly concerns people working in the agriculture, mining and construction sectors, although cases of importation among tourists or expatriates are regularly reported.
The condition can be contracted in three ways: through the skin, when a superficial wound comes into contact with contaminated soil or water, through the air through contaminated aerosols, or even through the digestive tract. When entering the water through. Thus, in 2021 and still in the United States, the bacterium was detected in aromatherapy aerosols contaminated with an endemic area.
Treatment is based on antibiotics administered for several months but no vaccine exists to date. However, it is possible to protect yourself by avoiding Any contact with land, dirty water, protect open wounds with a waterproof dressing. carry Waterproof gloves and shoes also reduce exposure during agricultural and gardening work.