WHIPPLE’S DISEASE

Description

  • Bacterial infection that most often affects the gastrointestinal system
  • Interferes with normal digestion by impairing the breakdown of foods
  • Hampers the body’s ability to absorb nutrients

Symptoms

  • Common symptoms:
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping and pain, which may worsen after meals
  • Weight loss, associated with the malabsorption of nutrients
  • Inflamed joints, particularly the ankles, knees and wrists
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Anemia
  • Decreased vision and eye pain
  • Uncommon symptoms:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Skin darkening (hyperpigmentation) in areas exposed to the sun
  • Chest pain
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Difficulty walking
  • Visual impairment, including lack of control of eye movements
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss

Causes

  • Caused by the bacteria Tropheryma whipplei
  • Genetic defect in the immune system response

Risk Factors

  • Men
  • People ages 40 to 60
  • Whites in North America and Europe
  • Farmers
  • People who work outdoors and have frequent contact with sewage

Diagnostic Tests

  • Physical examination of the signs and symptoms
  • Blood tests
  • Upper GI Endoscopy
  • Small Bowel Biopsy
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

Treatment

  • An aggressive course of antibiotics
  • Ingesting proper amounts of fluids
  • Taking antimalarial medication for 12 to 18 months
  • Maintaining a high-calorie diet
  • Corticosteroids to help ease inflammation
  • Nonsteroidal pain medication
  • Iron Supplements
  • Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Calcium, Magnesium supplements

Medications

  • Intravenous (IV) ceftriaxone (Rocephin)
  • IV Penicillin
  • Oral course of SMX-TMP (Bactrim, Septra)
  • Sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim
  • Ibuprofen

Lifestyle Management

  • Drinking clean water
  • Using only bottled drinking water
  • Maintaining personal hygeine
  • Taking precautions when outdoors