Urgent Care Doctor Baytown & Crosby

Multistate Outbreak of Non-travel Associated Burkholderia pseudomallei Infections (Melioidosis)

If you have heard about the recent multistate outbreak of Burkholderia pseudomallei infections (Melioidosis), then you are probably concerned. This article will cover what you need to know about the bacteria. 

What is Melioidosis? 

The bacteria that causes Melioidosis is Burkholderia pseudomallei. It can infect both humans and animals. Most cases occur in tropical or subtropical environments. 

In the past, the CDC reported approximately one dozen patients reported annually, and they usually have recently come back from travel from countries with a higher risk of the disease. 

What Should I Know About the Outbreaks of Melioidosis? 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found the bacterial DNA of Melioidosis in aromatherapy room sprays in the home of a Georgia resident who died from the disease in July 2021. 

This was the fourth patient diagnosed since March 2021. The other three patients were located in Kansas, Minnesota, and Texas. 

The initial alert was issued on August 9, 2021. The cases involve both children and adults. 

All four cases closely match in that they likely share a common source of exposure. None of the patients diagnosed with the bacteria had traveled outside of the country. The strains are similar to those seen in patients in South Asia. 

All of the patients were hospitalized for an extended period and then discharged to transitional care facilities. 

What are the Symptoms of Melioidosis?  

Symptoms vary between patients and may be similar to other diseases such as tuberculosis. Possible symptoms may include: 

  • Cough or shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pneumonia
  • Abscess formation
  • Neurological impairments
  • Blood infections

Because the symptoms are nonspecific, doctors must diagnose correctly so proper treatment is not delayed. 

An additional challenge is identification methods in laboratory settings can misidentify the bacteria. 

What Exposure May Put You at Risk for Melioidosis?

There has been an identified product that is causing risk for Melioidosis. 

Better Homes and Gardens branded essential oil-infused aromatherapy room spray with gemstones “lavender and Chamomile” scent manufactured in India. 

Walmart sold the spray between February and October 21, 2021. The spray has since been removed from the shelves and other scents under the same brand name. 

Recalls are initiated for all products. The CDC is working with public health officials from all states affected to see if there may be other patients who used the product and investigate the product further. Reports may be made as more information is identified. 

Why is Melioidosis Fatal?

With its wide range of symptoms, patients can develop pneumonia, sepsis, multiple organ abscesses, or encephalomyelitis. All of these illnesses can be fatal. 

Worldwide mortality rates vary but depend on many factors but are generally between 10-50%. Individuals with underlying health conditions are more at risk, including hepatitis or HIV, prevalent in many third-world countries. 

It is generally not transmitted person to person, nor is it airborne. It has been passed on through skin breaks or the reuse of needles or other medical devices in some countries. It may be transmitted through intranasal means, such as with the outbreak using aromatherapy. 

Is Melioidosis Treatable?

Melioidosis is treatable with antibiotics. The preferred antibiotic choice is Co-trimoxazole. If the bacteria are resistant to the drug, the second choice is co-amoxiclav. 

Here are some recommendations if you think you may have been exposed to the bacteria through the use of the aromatherapy sprays: 

  • Immediately stop using the product. Do not open the bottle or dispose of it in a regular trash can. 
  • Double bag the bottle and place it in a cardboard box. Return it to the store you purchased the spray from. 
  • Wash any sheets or linens that you used the spray  on. It is OK to use regular laundry detergent but dry it on high heat. Bleach can be used but is not necessary. 
  • Thoroughly clean and counters or surfaces where you have used the spray
  • Wash hands immediately after using the spray bottle.
  • Seek medical care if you have used the product and developed signs or symptoms as discussed. You should seek medical care immediately. Inform your doctor of the exposure.

Urgent Care MDs: Here for all Your Medical Needs

At Urgent Care MDs, we treat a variety of emergencies, illnesses, and injuries. We are often the first point of contact when you have a health concern. We pride ourselves in accurately diagnosing and treating our patients. 

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We are also offering covid testing at all our urgent care locations. Our experienced staff is ready to treat any acute illness or medical need that is not life-threatening.

Contact us today for any inquiries and to set an appointment. No matter your health needs,  we are here to provide the best care for you: our patients! 

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

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