The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health alert to doctors this Wednesday (27) after identifying for the first time in the continental territory of the country a bacterium that is behind a rare and serious.
With the investigation of two cases of human melioidosis, the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei (B. pseudomallei) was detected in soil and water samples from ponds in the Gulf Coast region of Mississippi.
The two unrelated people lived very close geographically and became infected two years apart, in 2020 and 2022, prompting health officials to investigate household products and surroundings.
Melioidosis causes fever, joint pain, and headache, as well as pneumonia, abscess formation, and blood infections.
In the US, there are an average of 12 cases per year, most related to travel to tropical and subtropical regions, where the bacterium is endemic.
A 2021 group that included four people from four states was linked to a contaminated imported aromatherapy spray.
Most healthy people who come into contact with the bacteria do not develop melioidosis, but the global mortality rate for those who acquire the disease is 10% to 50%.
The CDC has advised residents of southern Mississippi with underlying conditions such as diabetes, excessive alcohol consumption, or chronic kidney or lung disease to take extra precautions.
These measures include avoiding contact with dirt or muddy water, covering open wounds with bandages, and wearing waterproof boots and gloves when doing garden work.
“Given the low number of historically identified cases of melioidosis in the United States, the CDC considers that the risk of melioidosis for the general population remains very low,” the agency said.