Whipples Disease: Points to remember?

By  ,  National Institute of Health
Jul 04, 2011

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  • Whipple’s disease is a rare bacterial infection primarily affecting the small intestine. It can also affect the heart, lungs, brain, joints, and eyes.
  • Bacteria called Tropheryma whipplei (T. whipplei) cause Whipple’s disease.
  • Scientists are unsure how T. whipplei infects people.
  • Whipple’s disease is most common in middle-aged Caucasian men.
  • Classic signs and symptoms of Whipple’s disease include joint pain, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pain and bloating, fever, fatigue, and anemia.
  • Neurologic symptoms of Whipple’s disease can mimic those of almost any other neurologic condition.
  • Whipple’s disease is diagnosed through a careful evaluation of symptoms, endoscopy, and biopsy with tissue staining. Electron microscopy and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing are used to confirm a diagnosis.
  • Whipple’s disease is treated with long-term antibiotics that kill T. whipplei bacteria.
  • After treatment, the likely outcome for most people with Whipple’s disease is good.
  • People with neurologic Whipple’s disease who relapse tend to have much poorer health outcomes, including serious neurologic symptoms and even death.


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