What is Melioidosis?


What is Melioidosis?

Melioidosis is also known as Whitmore’s disease, which is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Burkholderia pseudomallei.  Melioidosis can infect humans or animals.  The bacterium is found in contaminated soil and water and spread to human or animals through direct contact with the contaminated source. Melioidosis is currently an endemic in the regions of Southeast Asia and Northern Australia.


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What are the signs of Melioidosis?
What are the signs of Melioidosis?

What are the signs of Melioidosis?

Melioidosis has various symptoms and signs that can be easily mistaken for other diseases, such as TB (tuberculosis) or other forms of Pneumonia. There are various types of infection that comes with their own set of symptoms:

  • Localised infection which includes localized pain or swelling, comes with fever, ulceration and abscess.
  • Pulmonary infection: patient will experience cough, chest pain, headache, high fever and anorexia
  • Bloodstream infection: when the infection reached the blood, patients may present with fever, headache, respiratory distress, abdominal discomfort, joint pain and disorientation
  • Disseminated Infection: symptoms include fever, weight loss, stomach/chest pain, muscle pain, headache, central nervous system/brain infection and.

However, please be aware that incubation period of melioidosis is yet to be clearly defined.  The incubation can range from one day to many years, but in most cases, symptoms will start to appear two to four weeks after infected.


Reference: https://www.cdc.gov/melioidosis/symptoms/index.html

Who are at risks of Melioidosis?
Who are at risks of Melioidosis?

Who are at risks of Melioidosis?

Reports indicated even healthy people will get melioidosis, however certain groups are posing a higher risk than others

  • Diabetes
  • Lung disease
  • Renal disease
  • Liver disease
  • Cancer, or immunosuppression
  • Agricultural, laboratory, and healthcare workers are also vulnerable to occupational exposure.


Reference: https://www.chp.gov.hk/en/healthtopics/content/24/101110.html

Treatment & prevention of Melioidosis
Treatment & prevention of Melioidosis

Treatment of Melioidosis 

Once confirmed a diagnosis of Melioidosis, patients will be either given intravenous or oral antimicrobial therapy. However, some cases might need long-term treatment for chronic infection cases.  Currently the mortality rate of Melioidosis is around 40-75%

Prevention of Melioidosis

Currently there is NO vaccine for this disease.  However, a good hand hygiene would be helpful to prevent you to get caught of the disease. Following is some advises

  • Avoid contact with contaminated soil.
  • If travel abroad, be cautious to engage with outdoor water sports. Risk of infection can be minimised by avoiding exposure to water sources (such as rivers, ponds or lakes) that might be contaminated. Have appropriate clothing/footwear to avoid possible contact with soil or water.
  • If have direct contact with contaminated soil or water, wash or shower.
  • Clean up wounds asap
  • Observe food hygiene and avoid drinking unboiled or untreated water.

One final advice, always be cautious and maintain a good hygiene.


Reference: https://www.chp.gov.hk/en/healthtopics/content/24/101110.html

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