Vietnamese girl contracts Whitmore's disease

By Ngoc Oanh   June 8, 2022 | 06:13 pm PT
Vietnamese girl contracts Whitmore's disease
A doctor works on testing samples for Melioidosis, or Whitmore's disease. Photo by VnExpress
A nine-year-old girl in Dak Lak Province has been diagnosed with melioidosis or Whitmore’s disease, marking the first case in the Central Highlands region.

The girl, who lives in Ea Sup District, was admitted to a local hospital on Jun. 4 with symptoms of high fever and enlarged parotid glands. There was pus in her jaw and she could not open her mouth normally.

Test results found her positive for Burkholderia pseudomallei, the bacteria that causes Whitmore’s disease, which can infect both humans and animals.

The disease has resulted in the girl getting sepsis and meningitis, doctors said.

According to Dak Lak health authorities, the abscess in her parotid glands has been removed, but she still suffers from constant fever and diarrhea.

The province is investigating the epidemiology of this case and it is still not clear where the girl got the bacteria from.

She started to develop symptoms 10 days before she was hospitalized.

Whitmore's disease has symptoms like fever, pneumonia and abscesses, as well as inflammation of the brain and joints. It has a mortality rate of around 40 percent.

The disease was first diagnosed in Vietnam in 1925.

There are around 10,000 cases worldwide every year, mostly detected during the rainy season. There is no vaccine for the disease.

The bacteria that causes the disease lives on the surface of water and in soil, especially mud, and is transmitted to humans through abrasions on the skin or through the respiratory tract when a person inhales dust particles or droplets in the air containing the bacteria.

Most recently, Vietnam recorded two deaths caused by Whitmore’s disease in 2019 and four in 2020.

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