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Whipple's disease is a systemic bacterial infection that mainly affects the small intestine. It's rare, but it's important to understand its symptoms and causes. Check out how Whipple's disease is treated.
There are around 30 cases worldwide -Whipple's disease- per year. Mainly men over 50 suffer from it. In Whipple's disease, several organs or systems are infected.
Most affected are:
- digestive tract
- cardiovascular system
- respiratory system
The habitat of the lesions is usually the digestive tract, and the lesions involve infiltration of the mucosa of the small intestine.
Whipple's disease - symptoms
The symptoms characteristic of this disease are:
- high fever and chills
- abdominal pain and diarrhea
- joint problems
- lymph nodes enlargement
- weight loss
- serous inflammation
- Celiac disease, anemia, discoloration of the skin, endocarditis or pleurisy may also occur
Whipple's disease - diagnosis
To diagnose this condition, a biopsy should be performed using an intestinal gavage. The intestine samples are collected during the duodenoscopy procedure. The disease is characterized by the presence of PAS-positive macrophages in the mucosa of the small intestine.
Whipple's disease - treatment
In Whipple's disease, a long-term treatment with antibiotics is recommended. Good effects are seen with tetracyclines and chloramphenicol. With proper treatment, the short-term prognosis is good. They are aggravated by relapses and involvement of the central nervous system. In the long run, Whipple's disease often leads to ultimate wasting of the body.