ENDEMIC to the US Gulf Coast is a deadly bacteria that kills up to 50% of patients. CDC says

People infected with the bacteria can suffer from the disease melioidosis, which can cause pneumonia and sepsis.  The CDC says it is fatal in 10 to 50 percent of cases (stock image)

The list of indigenous bacteria throughout the U.S. Gulf Coast now includes a lethal disease that may kill up to 50% of humans.

The CDC scientist who issued the warning, Dr. Julia Petras, claimed that Burkholderia pseudomallei was now probably hiding in soil and standing water along the 1,600-mile route from Texas to Florida.

The bacterium causes melioidosis in those who contract it, a dangerous infection that can result in pneumonia and sepsis and can lead to death.

The condition, which may first be misdiagnosed as another infection, is now known to doctors.

The CDC statement comes less than a year after it was first discovered in the US in soil off the Mississippi coast.

People infected with the bacteria can suffer from the disease melioidosis, which can cause pneumonia and sepsis. The CDC says it is fatal in 10 to 50 percent of cases (stock image)

Dr. Petras said: ‘It is estimated that there are probably 160,000 cases per year worldwide and 80,000 deaths.

?This is one of those diseases that is also called the great mimic because it can look like many different things.

“It’s vastly underreported and underdiagnosed and underrecognized ? we often like to say it’s been the neglected tropical disease.”

The bacteria – also known as B. psuedomallei – is native to tropical regions of Southeast Asia and northern Australia.

But the CDC is now warning that it has been identified in the Gulf States: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

In these areas, the agency warns it may be lurking in the topsoil or muddy fresh or brackish water.

People can become infected after coming into contact with the water or soil – including through open wounds – or after swallowing it.

It is unclear how the pathogen arrived in the United States, although it may have been carried by infected travelers.

The deadly bacteria has been present in Puerto Rico since 1982, according to a University of Oxford-backed study.

About 12 Americans are affected by the bacteria each year, estimates suggest, though they’re normally linked to foreign travel.

This is believed to be a major underestimate as many cases are misdiagnosed as other conditions.

In 2021, four cases were recorded in the US – including two deaths – and cases were later linked to a contaminated aromatherapy spray imported from India.

In 2020 and 2022, two more were discovered in unrelated individuals living in close proximity in Mississippi.

This prompted the CDC to take soil and water samples in and around the patients’ homes, revealing the presence of the bacteria B. pseudomallei. Both patients recovered from the infection.

Dr. Petras, an epidemic intelligence officer, said: ‘It is an environmental organism that lives naturally in the soil, and mostly in fresh water, in certain areas around the world – mostly subtropical and tropical climates.

“Many patients have pneumonia with sepsis, and/or sepsis, which is associated with higher mortality and poorer outcomes.”

She added: “We have antibiotics that work.

?What I’m talking about is IV antibiotics for a minimum of two weeks, followed by three to six months of oral antibiotics.

“It’s a comprehensive treatment, but if you’ve completed the full course and the diagnosis is made early, which is the most important thing, your outcome will probably be quite good.”

People can become infected with the bacteria through contact with contaminated soil and muddy water, especially if they have an open wound.

In rare cases, it can also be passed between people, although this has only been reported through sexual contact and during pregnancy.

In most cases, the bacteria cause no symptoms because the immune system can fight it off.

But when an infection sets in, patients may experience symptoms such as joint pain, fever, and headache in the early stages.

This can then progress to melioidosis, with the CDC warning that between 10 and 50 percent of cases are fatal.

Individuals living along the gulf coast who have conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, and chronic lung disease are at particular risk.

Deadly bacteria that kills up to 50% of patients now ENDEMIC to US gulf coast, CDC expert says