Woman Becomes First Person To Contract Extremely Rare Bacterial Disease From Fish Tank, Journal Finds

Courtesay Manfred Rohde, Helmholtz-Zentrum fuer Infektionsforschung (HZI)/Getty Images

Kevin Harness Contributor
Font Size:

A Maryland woman became the first person to be infected with an extremely rare bacterial disease that she contracted from her fish tank in 2019, according to the New York Post.

The 56-year-old woman was hospitalized when she contracted a very rare bacterial infection known as melioidosis, which is mostly found in the tropical environments of places like South Asia and Australia, the New York Post reported. (RELATED: Arsenic-Loving Bacteria May Help In Hunt For Alien Life)

The woman was admitted to a hospital on Sept. 20 in 2019 when she was exhibiting signs of fever, cough, and chest pain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was notified in October when the patient’s blood sample showed that she had contracted melioidosis, according to a report from the CDC.

Almost all cases of melioidosis infections that occur in the U.S. are the result of international travel, but the woman had no history of international travel, so an investigation was launched to determine how she contracted the disease, the CDC reported.

Findings suggest that the woman had contracted it through tropical freshwater fish she had as pets, which were imported from Singapore, the New York Post reported.

U.S. doctors were advised to consider melioidosis in all patients with symptoms who may have had contact with tropical fish or freshwater aquariums.

After 12 weeks of treatment, the infection was completely eradicated from her system, according to the CDC.

Researchers found in March that clofazimine, a drug used to treat rare infectious diseases, may help treat COVID-19.

Antibody treatments were shown to reduce the risk of death in patients hospitalized with severe cases of COVID-19, researchers found in June.