Tropical bacteria with 50% mortality rate enters Gulf Coast

June 11, 2023

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Wednesday that a soil-borne bacteria with a 50% fatality rate worldwide has entered the Gulf Coast region after several cases were traced there in recent days.

Burkholderia pseudomallei can cause lethal melioidosis if it is not caught early enough and treated aggressively with several different kinds of antibiotics.

Epidemic intelligence service officer with CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases Julia Petras said that the bacteria was “an environmental organism that lives naturally in the soil, and typically freshwater in certain areas around the world. Mostly in subtropical and tropical climates.”

The most recent case in the U.S. was in Mississippi in January, while other cases were discovered in 2020.

The disease's symptoms often mimic other maladies, like urinary tract infections, bone and joint infections, and skin infections. Infected people will end up with sepsis or pneumonia.

It is usually inhaled during a strong storm or transmitted through open wounds.