The bacterium that causes melioidosis, a deadly tropical disease, discovered in the United States for the first time

The bacteria that causes melioidosis, a life-threatening disease, was first discovered on US soil, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcement (opens in a new tab) Wednesday (July 27).

Historically, the bacteriacalled Burkholderia pseudomallei, has been observed primarily in Southeast Asia and northern Australia, where most cases of melioidosis occur each year, although the bacteria can also be found in parts 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 United States, and these cases can usually be related 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 a imported aromatherapy spray contaminated with bacteria.

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