Gulf Coast tests confirm that deadly tropical soil bacteria are now endemic to the United States

Burkholderia pseudomallei Grown on sheep blood agar for 24 hours. B. pseudomallei It is a Gram-negative aerobic bacteria that is the causative agent of chlamydial disease. ”/>

Zoom / Burkholderia pseudomallei It grows on sheep blood agar for 24 hours. B. pseudomallei It is a Gram-negative aerobic bacteria that is the causative agent of chlamydial disease.


For years, US health officials have noticed sporadic and mysterious cases of a foreign bacterial infection called chlamydia. The infection – which is difficult to diagnose, treat and often fatal – was thought to infect only travelers or those who had contact with contaminated imported goods or animals. However, every now and then, an American may inexplicably get sick – no recent travel, no obvious connections.

Now, health officials have a definitive explanation. This confirms a long-standing frightening suspicion: the killer bacteria aren’t alien anymore. Instead, he is a permanent resident of the United States entrenched in American soil.
Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday that three samples taken from soil and volcanic waters in the Gulf Coast region of southern Mississippi tested positive for the bacteria. The sampling was part of an investigation into two mysterious cases in the area that occurred in 2020 and 2022. The positive test results mark the first time investigators have discovered the deadly germ in US environmental samples, though they’ve been searching for it for years.
It’s unclear how long the bacteria have settled in the United States or how widespread it has been. But CDC modeling indicates that the environmental conditions of the Gulf Coast states are favorable for bacterial growth. The agency called for extensive environmental sampling.

While the results explain the puzzling cases, the most important thing now is for health officials to get the word out. This is no longer a traveler’s disease. In a health advisory issued yesterday, the CDC emphasized that its notice “serves to alert clinicians and public health officials across the country to consider chlamydial disease in patients whose clinical presentation corresponds to signs and symptoms of disease, regardless of international travel history.” endemic areas, where chlamydial disease is currently considered locally endemic in areas of the Gulf Coast region of Mississippi.”

new resident

Bacteria on hand Burkholderia pseudomallei, which lives in soil and water in tropical and subtropical regions and causes rare but serious sporadic infections. Areas of highest endemicity are in Southeast Asia and northern Australia, but they have also appeared in areas of southwest Asia, Africa, the Pacific, and the Americas, such as Peru, Brazil, Haiti and some US territories, including Puerto Rico.

B. pseudomallei Chlamydia is caused by transmission in various ways, all of which involve direct contact with contaminated soil and water. People can become infected if they swallow contaminated soil, water, or food; If you inhale contaminated dust or water droplets; Or if contaminated soil or water comes into contact with a crack in the skin. People who are more likely to get melioidosis than others are those with certain conditions, such as diabetes, heavy alcohol use, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease, and conditions that impair immune responses. The good news is that the infection is rarely transmitted from person to person.

Subsequent symptoms of chlamydial disease can depend on which route B. pseudomallei enters the body. If it enters through a skin wound, it can cause pain, swelling, and an abscess. If it gets into the blood, it can cause joint pain, abdominal discomfort, and confusion. If it enters through the lung, it can cause coughing and chest pain. And if all goes systemically, it can cause weight loss, encephalitis, and seizures. In general, symptoms can appear vague and can easily be confused with other conditions. It has been described as the “Great Simulator” due to how frequently and easily it is confused with other serious infections, such as tuberculosis.

Its inconspicuous nature contributes to its destruction. B. pseudomallei Natural resistance to many commonly used antibiotics. Any delay in an accurate diagnosis could allow the bacteria to cause more serious illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), scurvy is fatal in 90 percent of people who are not treated properly. When people are treated with the correct antibiotics, the death rate drops to less than 40 percent. And if patients can access intensive care and appropriate medications, the death rate drops to about 20 percent.

For all these reasons, the United States government B. pseudomallei Threat of bioterrorism, and its inclusion as a level 1 select agent along with anthrax bacteria (Sirius bacilli bacteria biovar anthraxand the Ebola virus.

American cases

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average number of milo cases in the United States is about 12 per year, most of which are travel-related. But there have been notable and puzzling exceptions over the years.
Last year, shingles made headlines when four people in four states were infected with the same strain B. pseudomallei. The first unexplained cases, which were fatal, occurred in an adult in Kansas in March. Then, another adult in Minnesota survived, and a 4-year-old in Texas suffered brain damage. Finally, the case of a child in Georgia was determined through postmortem examination.
In October, investigators announced a break in the puzzling outbreak: Strain B. pseudomallei The pathogens are found in an aromatherapy room spray, made in India, which contains “gemstones”. Specifically, it was Better Homes & Gardens Lavender & Chamomile Essential Oil-infused essential oil spray with gems, which Walmart sold.

Although investigators suspected an imported product from the start, the group drew attention to other puzzling cases in the United States, cases that have raised fears that B. pseudomallei He was lurking in the soil of the United States. In 2015, for example, researchers at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) surveyed 34 cases of SAP in the United States between 2008 and 2013, and found that cases appeared to be increasing each year in that period. The study, published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Disease and Mortality Weekly Report, concluded that B. pseudomallei It may be an infectious disease originating in the United States.

“It is noteworthy that three cases of chlamydia occurred in US residents with no travel history either outside the United States or to areas where chlamydia was endemic, which may indicate unknown sources of exposure in the United States,” the researchers wrote. “Therefore, realizing that this infection can be seen in people who do not have a clear history of travel to places where it is present B. pseudomallei endemicity is important.”

The cautionary note appeared again in a case report published in 2020, also written by CDC researchers and published in the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases. The report documented a bewildering case of shingles since 2018 in a 63-year-old man from Atascosa County, Texas — located in the Gulf Coast region. The man had no relevant travel history, he only reported a trip to Mexico that took 30 years before he fell ill.

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