Taipei, Sept. 15 (CNA) The first fatal case of melioidosis this year was reported in Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Thursday, urging people to keep the environment clean and avoid direct contact with contaminated soil and water.
There have been 15 confirmed cases of melioidosis and 9 suspected ones nationwide as of Sept. 15, with most of them concentrated in Kaohsiung City and Pingtung County, said CDC Deputy Director Shih Wen-yi.
Of the two people who have died from melioidosis, one is a 69-year-old diabetic living in Zuoying District in Kaohsiung who was confirmed to have died from the disease. The other is a 61-year-old from Nanzih District with chronic illnesses who died from a suspected case of melioidosis.
Shih said the bacteria that causes melioidosis is found in contaminated water and soil. Humans acquire the infection through direct contact with the contaminated source, especially through skin abrasions. It is very rare for people to get the disease from another person.
Melioidosis has a latency period of two days to several years. Symptoms include skin ulcers, pneumonia or septicemia, according to Shih. People should wear rain shoes or waterproof boots and gloves when they are near a contaminated environment to avoid infection.
The elderly, people with chronic illnesses, and patients with weakened immune systems are especially susceptible to melioidosis, and 80 percent of confirmed cases involve people who also suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
(By Lung Jui-yun, Chang Ming-kun, and Scully Hsiao)