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Diseases & Conditions

Whipple's Disease

What is Whipple's Disease?

Whipple's disease is a multi-system infectious bacterial disease that interferes with the body's ability to metabolize fats. The disorder can affect any system in the body, including the central nervous system, but usually occurs in the gastrointestinal system. Gastrointestinal symptoms may include diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, weakness, and abdominal bleeding and pain. Neurological symptoms may include abnormalities of eye and facial muscle movements, confusion, seizures, ataxia, memory loss, and vision impairment. Fever, cough, and joint soreness may also be present.

Is there any treatment?

The standard treatment for Whipple's disease is a prolonged course of antibiotics.

What is the prognosis?

Generally, antibiotic treatment to destroy the bacteria that caused the disease results in relief of symptoms. However, the disorder may be persistent despite sustained treatment with antibiotics. Relapses are frequent. With treatment, the disorder can be cured. Untreated, Whipple's disease is fatal.

What research is being done?

The NINDS supports research on disorders that affect the central nervous system such as Whipple's disease. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases also supports research on disorders such as Whipple's disease. Much of this research is aimed at learning more about these disorders and finding ways to prevent, treat, and, ultimately, cure them.

Organizations

National Organization for Rare Disorders

55 Kenosia Avenue
P.O. Box 1968
Danbury, CT 06813–1968
Phone: 203.744.0100
Toll-free: 800.999.6673
Fax: 203.798.2291
Email: orphan@rarediseases.org
Website: www.rarediseases.org

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)

2 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892-3570
Phone: 301.654.3810
Toll-free: 800.891.5389
Email: nddic@info.niddk.nih.gov
Website: www.digestive.niddk.nih.gov

Source: National Institutes of Health; National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 3/22/2011...#5958

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