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Definition of «Whipple disease»

Whipple disease: A form of intestinal malabsorption (an inability to absorb nutrients from the intestine) described in 1907 by the pathologist and Nobel laureate George H. Whipple in a medical missionary who first developed arthritis and then weight loss, cough, fever, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), abdominal swelling, increased skin pigmentation, and severe anemia.

The disease has been discovered to be due to a previously unknown type of bacteria, now named Tropheryma whippelii, which was reported in the year 2000 to have been grown in the laboratory, opening the way for the development of a simple blood test to diagnose the disease. It is treated with antibiotics. Some patients relapse and need long-term, even life-long, treatment.

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