Whitmore’s disease, also known as Melioidosis, is a rare bacterial infection caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei. Animals and humans are both affected by the sickness. People get infected after coming into close contact with polluted soil and surface waterways. 

Melioidosis occurs mostly in tropical regions. It occurs most often in Malaysia, Thailand, northern Australia, and Singapore. It occurs less often in other regions of the globe, including Europe and the United States.


Whitmore’s disease can be classified into several types.

  • Pulmonary infection
  • Bloodstream Infection
  • Disseminated Infection
  • Localized Infection


Melioidosis manifests itself in a variety of ways. It is often confused with other illnesses, such as tuberculosis or more prevalent kinds of pneumonia.

Whitmore’s disease comes in a variety of types, each with its own set of signs and symptoms.

Pulmonary infection

Melioidosis most commonly manifests itself as a lung infection. A lung condition might develop on its own or as a consequence of a blood infection.

Pulmonary infection symptoms may include:

  • Cough
  • Headache and general muscle discomfort
  • Weight loss
  • Chest pain
  • High fever

Bloodstream Infection

Without prompt and adequate treatment, a lung infection may progress to septicaemia, often known as septic shock, which is a bloodstream infection.

Septic shock normally develops fast; however, it may develop gradually in certain people. Among its symptoms are:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Breathing problems
  • Upper abdominal discomfort
  • Muscle soreness and joint pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation or confusion

Disseminated infection

Sores arise in more than one organ in this kind of Whitmore’s disease, which may or may not be associated with septic shock. Symptoms could include:

  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Stomach or chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Weight loss

Localized Infection

Melioidosis of this form affects the skin and the organs immediately under the skin. Symptoms could include:

  • Fever
  • Ulcers, or abscesses
  • Discomfort, or swelling in a limited (localized) region


Your health practitioner will question you regarding your symptoms, do a physical exam, and obtain blood or other bodily fluid samples to diagnose melioidosis. 

They will submit your specimens to a laboratory. A technician will examine the samples for antibodies and attempt to develop B. pseudomallei. The following samples might be used to confirm melioidosis:

  • Blood.
  • urine
  • Phlegm (sputum).
  • Pus from your skin’s wound


Treatment depends on the kind of melioidosis.

The initial step of melioidosis therapy is at least 10 to 14 days with an antibiotic administered through an intravenous (IV) line. This antibiotic treatment might last up to eight weeks. Physicians may recommend either:

  • Ceftazidime (Fortaz, Tazicef), every 6 to 8 hours
  • Meropenem (Merrem), every 8 hours.

The second phase of therapy consists of between three and six months of one of the following two oral antibiotics:

  • Doxycycline (Adoxa, Alodox, Avidoxy, Doryx, Monodox), administered every 12 hours 
  • Sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim (Bactrim, Septra, Sulfatrim), administered every 12 hours

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