Residents of Thailand’s lower northeastern region, particularly in four provinces of Isaan, are grappling with an outbreak of Melioidosis, also known as “soil fever,” with nearly 600 cases reported and six fatalities.
Melioidosis, caused by the bacterium “Burkholderia pseudomallei,” is commonly found in soil, water, rice paddies, vegetable gardens, and rubber plantations throughout Thailand, according to the Thai Department of Disease Control. The infection can occur through three routes: direct contact with contaminated soil or water, ingestion of contaminated food or water, and inhalation of dust from soil containing the bacteria.
Meliodosis is currently in its spring outbreak and is causing medical concerns among Thai medical offices.
As of October 21st, 2023, a total of 582 cases of Melioidosis have been reported in the lower northeastern region since January 1st, 2023. Among the affected provinces, Buri Ram has the highest number of cases with 336, resulting in four deaths. Following closely is Nakhon Ratchasima with 93 cases and two fatalities. Surin reported 106 cases with no deaths, while Chaiyaphum recorded 47 cases with no fatalities.
Dr. Taweechai Wisanuyothin, Director of the 9th Disease Control Office in Nakhon Ratchasima, issued a warning, urging farmers to take immediate precautions by avoiding direct exposure to mud, refraining from wading through water, and staying cautious.
The doctor said symptoms of Meliodosis typically manifest 1-21 days after infection, although some cases may remain asymptomatic for longer periods, depending on the amount of bacteria exposure and individual immune response.
The disease has a wide range of symptoms, including high fever, skin lesions, or respiratory issues. It can also affect multiple organs at once, potentially resulting in death.
Dr. Taweechai suggested that to prevent Melioidosis, especially among farmers, it is crucial to avoid wading through water and exposure to mud. If necessary, wear boots or plastic coverings over shoes to prevent direct contact with water. In case of any wounds, cover them with waterproof material. Additionally, promptly wash and clean the body after work and drink clean or boiled water at all times.
If a sudden high fever, severe headache, and muscle pain occur, seek immediate medical attention and inform a healthcare provider. For further information, contact the Department of Disease Control hotline at 1422.