lab dish containing a red culture liquid and the bacteria Burkholderia pseudomallei

Bacteria behind melioidosis, a deadly tropical disease, found in US for 1st time

The bacteria behind the potentially fatal disease melioidosis has been found in U.S. soil for the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced (opens in new tab) Wednesday (July 27).

Historically, the bacteria, called Burkholderia pseudomallei, has been seen primarily in Southeast Asia and northern Australia, where most cases of melioidosis occur each year, although the bacteria can also be found in certain areas of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Central and South America. In an average year, only about 12 cases of melioidosis occur in the U.S., and these cases can usually be linked to international travel to a country where B. pseudomallei commonly grows, or to contaminated imported products. For example, in 2021, two people became ill, and two others died, after using an imported aromatherapy spray contaminated with the bacteria.

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