Maryland woman contracts melioidosis bacteria in aquarium
A Maryland woman would be the first in the world to contract an extremely rare and potentially fatal bacterial disease in her own freshwater aquarium filled with imported tropical fish, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said.
The 56-year-old woman was hospitalized in 2019 after being infected with melioidosis – a foreign bacteria very rarely found in the United States, according to a new report released this month in the CDC. Review of emerging infectious diseases.
Melioidosis is usually only found in tropical areas – particularly South Asia and Australia – but when cases are discovered in the United States, they are usually linked to people who have traveled overseas.
The Maryland woman, who had never been outside of the United States, is the first known person in the world to contract melioidosis in a home aquarium, according to the report. Contamination of aquarium water used to transport fish from Singapore to France has already been detected, according to the report.
The woman was admitted to hospital with fever, cough and chest pain in mid-September 2019.
In total, she spent three weeks in the hospital and took antibiotics for over four months before the infection finally cleared up.
An investigation later revealed that the aquarium in the woman’s home contained the same bacteria that had been found in her body.
The woman said she bought two aquariums, gravel and nine fish, including cherry barbs, fancy tailed guppies and tiger barbs, from a retail store in July 2019.
She remembers putting her bare hands and arms in the water and gravel to clean the tanks in August 2019 before she fell ill.
Six of the woman’s fish also died between August and November 2019, but it was not immediately clear whether the bacteria played a role.
Authorities warn that melioidosis can be contracted by ingesting contaminated water and soil, or by coming into direct contact with water or soil contaminated by cuts or abrasions.
The report then urged U.S. doctors to consider melioidosis in patients with symptoms who have been exposed to tropical fish and freshwater aquariums.
The emergence of the Maryland case came after the CDC revealed in August it was investigating cases of melioidosis after two people died and two more fell seriously ill when the disease was detected in Georgia, Kansas. , Texas and Minnesota.
None of those four patients, including a 4-year-old Texan girl, had traveled overseas either and investigators are still trying to determine the cause of these cases.
The CDC “considers the most likely cause to be an imported product (such as a food or drink, personal care or cleaning products, or medicine) or an ingredient in any of these types of products.” according to a press release from the agency.
The Maryland woman is believed to be unrelated to the four recent cases.
Melioidosis is caused by the bacteria Burkholderia pseudomallei, and may take several weeks to settle after exposure.
Symptoms can include cough and shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, intermittent fever and rash, according to the CDC.
Risk factors for developing the disease include diabetes, liver or kidney disease, chronic lung disease, cancer, or other conditions that weaken the immune system.