Two people with airway and heart conditions were hospitalized and a third person was treated at a hospital and released from a local hospital in Tulare County, California on Saturday after contracting a rare, bacterial infection called melioidosis, according to the California Department of Public Health. The two who were hospitalized were also treated at Tulare Memorial Hospital; in total, 11 people had contracted the disease in the region, with two recovering and six hospitalized. Officials are working to determine which individuals contracted the illness in Tulare County while staying at nearby nightspots.
According to Dr. Alex Najera, the California Department of Public Health’s deputy director, only one other U.S. case of Omicron albicans is reported each year. Although the bacterial infection has never been found in this large a location, it has been found in other parts of the world. Last August, an outbreak of the same bacteria was found in a hotel in Tennessee.
By the end of 2018, 20 people had been confirmed as infected by the bacteria, according to the FDA. As Omicron albicans bacteria cannot be cured, the infected individual may need hospitalization. Omicron albicans bacteria is often found in the humid, damp environment of hunter-gatherer groups such as Yaws, and it can be spread from person to person when infected persons bathe, clean the boat, water slide, or carry dirty water in their mouth. Symptoms typically begin about three to five days after exposure, and usually include fever, headache, nausea, and shortness of breath. According to the Mayo Clinic, the bacteria spreads through cat urine, as well as having sexual contact with an infected person. Infected individuals may also inhale infected cat waste. Even though the bacteria are most common in Central and South America, Greece, China, the Philippines, Turkey, Mongolia, and India, Omicron albicans bacteria have also been found in a number of domestic animals including chickens, birds, small dogs, pigs, cattle, and even goats.
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