Rare tropical disease raises alarm as CDC doctors probe deadly infection outbreak

Florida: Disease expert warns of ‘unbelievable’ coronavirus numbers

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Four cases of melioidosis, a bacterial infection, have been reported in the US. Children and adults have been infected in Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota and Texas, with two of the patients dying of the disease.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been confused because the disease is not native to the US.

Typically melioidosis is endemic to tropical and subtropical climates in Southeast Asia and northern Australia and is contracted via travel.

None of the four individuals infected in the US had travelled internationally.

On Monday, the CDC said the most likely cause of infection is through an imported product, such as a food or drink, personal care or cleaning products or medicine, or an ingredient in one of those types of products.

In a statement, the CDC said the bacterial strains that sickened each of the four patients closely match each other, suggesting there is a common source for the cases.

They added doctors must look for any acute bacterial infections which do not respond to normal antibiotics and to consider melioidosis as a diagnosis even if a patient has travelled outside of the country.

They then said: “CDC also urges clinicians not to rule out melioidosis as a possible diagnosis in children and those who were previously healthy and without known risk factors for melioidosis.”

The agency added that healthy people can contract the disease, underlying health issues, such as kidney disease, diabetes and excessive alcohol use, can increase risk of serious illness.

It comes as the US is suffering its worst spike in Covid cases since the winter, with an average of 100,000 new infections a day.

Despite 70.6 percent of adults having at least one dose of vaccine and 60.9 percent fully inoculated, according to the CDC, millions remain unvaccinated.

Cases are spiking in states with low vaccination rates, like Florida and Texas.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on CNN: “Our models show that if we don’t [vaccinate people], we could be up to several hundred thousand cases a day, similar to our surge in early January.”

Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert and the White House’s chief medical adviser, said last week that “more pain and suffering” lay ahead – and once more called on Americans to get jabs, calling the rise in infections “an outbreak of the unvaccinated”.

US President Joe Biden has come under fire for the spike in cases, after being praised for the initial success of the country’s vaccine rollout.

In a bid to increase uptake of the jabs, Mr Biden called for states to offer $100 (£71) to the newly vaccinated.

He said at the end of July: “People are dying and will die who don’t have to die.”

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