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People living in flooded areas have been warned to keep time spent wading through water to a minimum lest they be infected with melioidosis, a disease that has claimed 21 lives this year.
The disease, caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei and prevalent during the rainy season in the subtropics, peaks every August in Thailand and has been wider spread this year, he said.
The bacterium thrives in contaminated water and soil and infects humans and animals through direct contact.
“People could get infected from prolonged exposure to contaminated water or soil, especially if they have any open sores or lesions in the skin,” Jessada said. “Infection can also come from consuming contaminated water or food.”
Melioidosis produces a variety of acute and severe symptoms, he said, including long-lasting fever with no other apparent cause, ulcers or abscesses in the lungs, liver or spleen, and blood infections.
The disease, which mainly affects adults, can fatal, he said. Death has been known to result within 2-3 days of admission to hospital.
Risk factors for infection include chronic respiratory and lung disease, tuberculosis, diabetes, chronic renal disease, thalassemia, cancer, and immune-suppressing conditions unrelated to HIV.
Jessada advised people coming into regular contact with floodwater to wear boots, drink only water that’s been boiled, avoid raw and partially cooked food, wash immediately after exposure and seek medical attention if a fever persists for more than five days or abscesses become chronic.
The DDC hotline is 1422.