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Illness & Conditions - Definition

Whipple's Disease

Whipple's Disease

Whipple's disease is a rare illness caused by a bacterial infection that affects the intestines, preventing absorption of the nutrients in food and sometimes causing malnutrition and anemia. Symptoms of Whipple's disease include weight loss, diarrhea, abdominal pain, low fever, and pain in the joints.

If not treated, Whipple's disease may affect organs and systems of the body, including the heart, nervous system, and eyes.

Treatment for Whipple's disease is antibiotic medicine. Although the illness usually improves within a few weeks once antibiotic therapy starts, the person may have to take antibiotics for a full year to help avoid having a relapse, which is common. If it is not treated, Whipple's disease leads to death.

Last Revised: April 8, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology

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