Tuesday, June 6, 2023
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Deadly bacteria in US soil not linked to lab leaks, aromatherapy

The bacteria that causes melioidosis recently detected in U.S. soil samples have nothing to do with a 2014 Louisiana “lab leak” or a recent outbreak sparked by aromatherapy products, experts say .

Genetic sequencing indicated that the Burkholderia pseudomallei strain detected in southern Mississippi was from the Western Hemisphere, similar to those found in the Caribbean or Latin The isolates found in the United States, said Dr. Alfredo Torres of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Isolates from a recent outbreak of melioidosis associated with Walmart’s aromatherapy products have been traced to a lineage in India, where the products were produced. The strain found in the accident at the Tulane National Primate Research Center in Covington, Louisiana, is a Southeast Asian strain commonly used in research, Torres said.

The Bacterial Special Pathogens Branch of the CDC confirmed, in an email statement to MedPage Today, that the current The strain is genetically distinct from the other two strains and “is a new strain that has never been seen before”.

The CDC said the genetic sequence of the latest sample has not been made public, but noted that the sequence of the strain linked to the aromatherapy outbreak has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine .

    New Western Hemisphere Strain

    The CDC announced on Wednesday the first detection of Pseudomonas spp. in U.S. soil samples from the southern Mississippi Gulf Coast region, raising concerns that this previously only Bacteria limited to tropical and subtropical regions may become endemic in the United States The bacteria cause melioidosis, a disease with a case fatality rate between 10-50%.

    Environmental sampling in June 2022 was prompted by two US cases, one in July 2020 and the other in July 2020. Another in May 2022. The two patients — both of whom have recovered — lived in geographic proximity in southern Mississippi, according to the CDC’s Health Alert Network advisory.

    The institution along the soil and water in and around the homes of two patients. Three samples taken from soil and puddle water on the 2020 case property tested positive for the bacteria. The CDC says this suggests environmental bacteria could be a source of disease — and have been around since at least 2020. The strain and positive environmental sample from one of the patient’s properties, we can say it is at least locally endemic to the area,” the CDC said in a statement to MedPage Today.

    CDC calls it a “novel” strain from the Western Hemisphere, distinct from previously known isolates.

    Lab leak

    In November 2014, seven research rhesus monkeys at Tulane National Primate Research Center were infected with B. pseudomallei, even though they were not involved in the bacteria experiments there. The CDC statement on the agency’s investigation said the animals were in breeding colonies when they were infected, not in In the laboratory.

    While no specific transmission incident was ever identified, the investigation found security breaches in the facility that could have contributed to transmission, including improper use of coats to prevent contamination of clothing.

    This “could lead to bacteria attaching to underwear and being taken out of the lab,” the CDC reports. “Bacteria can be transferred in this way to breeding colonies inhabited by non-human primates and/or clinics where routine testing and treatment is performed.”

    The CDC told in 2015 USA TODAY, this outbreak is 1026b, originally recovered from a rice farmer who fell ill in Thailand in 1993 – so not relevant to Western current sampling Hemispheric strains reported in .

    The agency concluded that there was no evidence that the bacteria had been released into the surrounding environment.


    Four cases from four states The cases involved an outbreak of melioidosis associated with Walmart products: 53-year-old woman from Kansas, 4-year-old girl from Texas, 53-year-old man from Minnesota, and 5-year-old boy from Georgia.

    It took a long time to find the source of the outbreak, but finally took a sample of seco and found the culprit when visiting the Georgia boy’s home. The researchers determined that the strain matched the bacteria endemic to India that produced the product.

    Walmart has launched this spray – Better Homes & Gardens Lavender & Chamomile Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gems – from October 2021, which hits shelves and is discontinued from its warehouses Ship.

    As of May, the exact source of contamination has not been identified at the product’s manufacturing plant in India, the CDC previously said, told MedPage today.

    Next step

    , Torres said, the detection of the bacteria in U.S. soil is not surprising. He pointed to the 2016 Nature Microbiology paper predicting that some soils in the southern states of the United States will be able to hostB. pseudomallei.

    “Climate change is very likely to allow pathogens to [find] a new habitat in the soil, rather than go deep underground. From the surface, the pathogen is now on the surface and an individual may infect it ,” he told MedPage Today in an email.

    As for next steps, the CDC said it is “discussing sampling strategies with partners to improve our understanding of the geographic distribution of this bacterium in the U.S. environment”

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    Kristina Fiore leads MedPage’s Corporate and Investigative Reporting Team. She has been a medical journalist for over a decade, and her work has been recognized by Barlett & Steele, AHCJ, SABEW, and more. Send story tips to [email protected]. Follow



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