How to Recognize and Prevent Whitmore's Disease (Melioidosis)

Melioidosis, also called Whitmore's disease, is an infectious disease similar to Glanders disease. The bacteria causing melioidosis are spread to humans and animals through direct contact with a contaminated source, typically water and soil. Melioidosis is endemic in Southeast Asia, but a few isolated cases have occurred in the Western Hemisphere.


  1. Image titled Recognize and Prevent Whitmore's Disease (Melioidosis) Step 01
    Recognize the four types of infection: These are:
    • Acute (localized) infection: Most often confined to a particular location, this appears as a blemish or nodule where the bacteria has entered through a tear in the skin. This form can produce:
      • Fever.
      • Muscle aches.
      • May progress rapidly to infect the bloodstream.
    • Pulmonary infection: This form can produce mild bronchitis to severe pneumonia. The onset is typically accompanied by:
      • High fever.
      • Headache.
      • Inability to eat.
      • Overall muscle soreness.
      • Pains in the chest.
      • Nonproductive or productive cough with normal saliva.
    • Acute bloodstream infection: Patients with an illness such as HIV or diabetes are affected by this type of the disease. Usually resulting in septic shock, symptoms of the infection vary depending on the site of the original infection. Symptoms in most cases include:
      • Respiratory affliction.
      • Severe headache.
      • Mental confusion, disorientation.
      • Abscesses throughout the body.
      • High fever.
      • Diarrhea.
      • Pus-filled lesions on the skin.
      • Tenderness in the muscles.
    • Chronic suppurative infection: This form is an infection that involves the organs of the body. Generally this includes:
      • Joints.
      • Intestines and bowels.
      • Lymph nodes.
      • Skin.
      • Brain.
      • Liver.
      • Lungs.
      • Bones.
      • Spleen.
  2. Image titled Recognize and Prevent Whitmore's Disease (Melioidosis) Step 02
    Learn to take preventative measures to avoid the disease. Steps include:
    • Avoid contact with the blood and body fluids of an infected person.
    • Avoid contact with soil and standing water in areas where melioidosis is endemic.
    • Wear boots when engaging in agricultural work to avoid infection through the feet.
    • Do not drink from water sources that are not covered or treated.
    • Practice proper personal hygiene, especially if your job requires you come into contact with soil or standing water sources.


  • There is no vaccine for melioidosis.
  • People and animals contract the infection by inhaling dust, drinking contaminated water, and coming into contact with contaminated soil through skin abrasions.
  • Melioidosis can be treated with the appropriate antibiotics.
  • Many animal species are prone to melioidosis, including sheep, goats, horses, pigs, cattle, dogs, and cats.


  • Bloodstream infection with melioidosis can be fatal.

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Categories: Infectious Diseases