Meliodosis is a bacterial infection caused by the bacteria pseudomonas psuedomallei with manifestations that range from no symptoms to skin infections, pneumonia and life threatening shock.

Where does it occur?

It is more common in tropical countries of Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Central and South America.

How is it transmitted?

It is transmitted through by contact with contaminated freshwater or soil through breaks on the skin. Ingestion or inhalation of contaminated water can also result in infection with symptoms of pneumonia and shock.

Is it contagious from person to person?

It is not contagious from person to person.

What is the risk for travelers?

Generally the risk is low, but higher if engaged in agricultural activities since this bacterium is generally found in water.

How soon after exposure will I develop symptoms?

Anywhere from 2 days to years after exposure.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Infection takes different forms – local infection of skin results in a nodule with redness and swollen lymph glands. More commonly one develops fever, chills, chest pain, and cough with occasional bloody sputum. Some can develop rapidly progressive shock with multiple organ failure.

Chronic low grade infections result in abscesses of the skin, liver, brain and bones.

Are there any lab tests to diagnose the illness?

The bacteria can be cultured from infected tissue. Blood antibody tests are also available.

Is there any treatment?

Antibiotics like Ceftazidime, Imipenem, Doxycycline, Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole are effective; these need to be used in combination and for an extended period of time.

What preventive measures can be taken?

Avoid wading into freshwater like rice paddy areas; especially if you have open wounds.

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