The CDC discovers rare disease in U.S. Gulf Coast soil and water samples

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CDC / Holly Patrick

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – For the first time, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention identified bacteria that causes a rare and serious disease called melioidosis.

The bacteria was discovered through domestic soil and water samples in the Gulf Coast region of Mississippi.

According to the CDC, it is unclear how long the bacteria has been present and where else it may be found in the U.S.

Studies show that the environmental conditions in Gulf Coast states would promote bacterial growth.

Two unrelated people living within the same area of the region became sick with melioidosis two years apart—in 2020 and 2022.

The illnesses prompted the sampling of household products, soil and water around their homes.

In 2022, three samples taken from soil and puddle water tested positive for the bacteria.

Melioidosis is caused by direct contact with B. pseudomallei, which is found in contaminated soil and water.

In the United States, there are an average of 12 melioidosis cases a year. Most cases occur in people who have recently traveled to countries where the bacteria is endemic.

In 2021, four cases were linked to an imported aromatherapy spray sold in Walmarts nationwide.  Two of the cases resulted in death.

SEE ALSO: Walmart recalls room spray due to rare and dangerous bacteria

Melioidosis has a wide range of nonspecific symptoms like fever, joint pain, and headaches and can cause conditions that include pneumonia, abscess formation, or blood infections. Worldwide, the disease is fatal in 10 to 50 percent of those infected.

The CDC believes that the risk of disease for the general population continues to be very low.

Categories: Health, News, US & World