Are the ‘cannibal’ bacteria that cause Whitmore’s disease really scary?

Doctors at The City Children’s Hospital also said that the way of thinking about “cannibal bacteria” must be properly understood as bacteria that can necrosis and death of tissues in the body, in the skin, ulcers or abscesses, in the lungs, pneumonia, in the blood it causes blood infection…

The case of a 9-year-old girl infected with Whitmore (caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei, also known as ‘cannibal bacteria’) has raised concerns when they enter the body, causing damage to many organs.

Very rare human-to-human transmission

According to the report of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the above-mentioned 9-year-old girl was admitted by her family members to the general pediatric department of the Central Highlands General Hospital in a state of alertness, fever of 39 degrees Celsius, 2-sided parotid glands swollen, rigid not mobile.

The left corner of the pediatric jaw has a soft pressing point of pus, a lot of pain; limited open mouth; slightly red throat ulcerated with the tip of the tongue 1 nodule; poor eating, not vomiting; the abdomen is soft, the hepatospleen is not large, the neck is soft.

The patient tested positive for Burkholderia pseudomallei (or Whitmore, also called “cannibal bacteria”) with postoperative diagnosis of 2-sided parotid abscess, sepsis, meningitis.

The bacterium has also caused many deaths in recent years. Particularly in 2020, during the flood that took place in October, up to 30 people in the locality were infected with Whitmore, including 4 deaths.

According to the medical literature, Whitmore’s disease (also known as melioidosis) is an infectious pathology in humans and animals caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei.

Recent studies in our country show that the disease is distributed in many northern and southern provinces. The mortality rate from the disease is quite high, over 40%, especially in cases of septic shock and severe pneumonia.

Regarding the path of bacterial penetration, Experts – Head of Infection Department B, Hospital for Tropical Diseases – indicates that bacteria often enter from scratched skin.

People who are frequently exposed to soil and water contaminated with bacteria but do not use proper occupational protection are at higher risk of developing the disease.

It is also noted that people get sick from inhaling dust particles containing bacteria or using drinking water, eating foods containing bacteria that have not been properly treated. In terms of human-to-human transmission or animal-to-human transmission in this disease is extremely rare.

It is necessary to properly understand how to call “cannibal bacteria”

Experts added that when it enters the body, Burkholderia pseudomallei bacteria can cause many different clinical forms.