This disease attacks the respiratory organs, usually starting with an abscess in the lungs. It is caused by a bacterium under the category of “gram-negative” which is a class of bacteria which does not show up under crystal violet stain, which makes it difficult to identify. It occurs in water and soil and is predominant in Northern Australia and Thailand. It is associated with contaminated water and is also linked to the occurrence of typhoons, tsunamis and floods.
The symptoms of this disease usually originate from the formation of an abscess in the lung region. This may result in either severe pneumonia or just mild bronchitis. The associated symptoms are chest pain, drop in appetite, headache, fever, cough and general soreness of the muscles
The diagnosis for this disease can be confirmed through a culture from a blood test. Attention should be given to the travel history of the patient. A complete screen should be done, including a throat swab.
There are two stages for the treatment of this disease, namely the “intravenous high intensity phase” and the “eradication phase”.
The mortality rate for this disease can be as high as 90%, depending on the level of access to antibiotics and the level of complication of the cases. There is a fair degree of recurrence as well, up to 20%. The mortality rate seems to be directly dependent on access to intensive care facilities, due to which the mortality rate is 20% Northern Australia but as much as 40% in Northeast Thailand.
This disease is not considered to be contagious. High risk workers like those who work in labs should exercise extreme precaution while handling Burkholderia pseudomallei which is a major source of infection. Rice-paddy farmers are another high risk group and are warned against coming into contact with soil. Within this group, those suffering from diabetes, kidney patients, lung disease patients or those with any kind of immune-deficiency are the most susceptible to this disease..
The treatment for this disease is long and drawn out. The cost of treatment is not only based on the use of antibiotics which may vary according to the severity of the condition but also phase 2 where eradication therapy can prove to be costly and time-consuming. Hence, treatment for this disease can run into several thousands of dollars for a single patient.