By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Officials with the Chiba Prefectural Health and Welfare Department Disease Control Section reported (computer translated) this week on a melioidosis fatal case. The case is a 75-year-old man who was admitted to a medical institution in Kamogawa City on August 6 and died on the same day with sepsis and shock symptoms.


It is presumed he contracted the serious bacterial infection in Thailand as he stayed in that country from May to June. He was hospitalized in Thailand where his symptoms improved and he was discharged.

He returned to Japan and presented again with symptoms earlier this month and was diagnosed with melioidosis.

This is the first melioidosis case reported in Japan this year and the 1st case in Chiba since April 2007.

Melioidosis (also known as Whitmore disease and Nightcliff gardener’s disease) is caused by the bacterium, Burkholderia pseudomallei. The disease though somewhat rare has been seen in areas of Southeast Asia and Northern Australia, particularly after heavy rains. In Thailand it is considered a disease of rice farmers.

The organism is saprophytically found in soil and water. People usually get infected by contact with contaminated soil or water through skin wounds, inhalation or rarely through ingestion of contaminated water.

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Person to person transmission can occur through contact with blood and body fluids of an infected person.

Depending on how heavy the infection incubation can range from hours to weeks. Infection may show nosymptoms but it can quickly progress to disseminated disease involving skin and a variety of organs.

Pneumonia from B. pseudomallei can be seen either in acute or chronic disease. Chronic pulmonary melioidosis may present itself years after exposure and can mimic tuberculosis.

Fatality rates of melioidosis can reach up to 75 percent even with appropriate antibiotic treatment. Fatalities are particularly greater in those with underlying conditions like diabetes mellitus or renal disease.

People at higher risk of contracting this disease are those with jobs or hobbies that increase their exposure to contaminated soil and water like military, construction, farmers, eco-tourists and other adventure travelers.

Prevention is based on avoiding exposure of cuts and other trauma with soil and water in endemic areas. This is especially important if the person has an underlying disease. The use of boots and gloves are recommended for people whose work involves contact with soil and water, like farmers.