Teen girl in central Vietnam dies of Whitmore's disease

By Le Hoang   September 19, 2023 | 01:21 am PT
A 15-year-old in Thanh Hoa Province has died one month after contracting an infectious disease called melioidosis, also known as Whitmore's disease.

At the end of August, the patient, who lives in Quang Xuong District, developed symptoms of sore throat, cough, and high fever.

She consumed lots of water and lost seven kilos in 10 days, but her family did not take her to hospital and bought medicine at local drug stores to treat her at home.

It was not until September 1 when her condition was not improved that her family took her to a local clinic, where she was given several prescription medicines.

Three days later, the patient was transferred to the Children's Hospital of Thanh Hoa Province in a state of respiratory circulatory failure, rapid pulse, low blood pressure, cyanosis, and loss of consciousness.

The hospital tested her blood samples and found that the girl had been infected with a bacterium that causes Whitmore’s disease.

Aside from the infection, the patient already had diabetes and suffered from obesity. At the hospital, she relied on intensive care, was put on a ventilator, and received constant dialysis but her condition could not improve.

She died on Sunday.

Healthcare authorities in Thanh Hoa Province are still looking for sources that might have caused the disease for the teen girl. There were no open injuries on her body.

The patient stayed with her parents and brother in Tien Trang Commune, with none of them traveling anywhere over the past 30 days. The family uses water extracted from a well and do not raise any poultry or cattle.

Normally, people contract Whitmore’s disease after coming into contact with soil or water contaminated with Burkholderiapseudomallei when having open injuries on their skin.

The disease was first diagnosed in Vietnam in 1925. There are around 10,000 cases worldwide every year, mostly during the rainy season, around half of which prove fatal. There is currently no vaccine.

To treat the disease, doctors would have patients take multiple antibiotics over several months.

Doctors said when there are open wounds on the skin, ulcers, or burns, people should avoid contact with soil or water that may be contaminated.

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