(1) 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.
Common Misspellings: whipple diease, whipple desease
(2) Whipple's disease is a rare infectious disorder that can affect many areas of the body, including the gastrointestinal and central nervous systems. Caused by the bacteria Tropheryma whipplei, it is typically diagnosed from malabsorption symptoms such as diarrhea and weight loss. If the central nervous system is infected, Whipple's disease can cause impairment of mental faculties and lead to dementia. It can be treated successfully with antibiotic therapy, but up to a third of patients suffer relapse.
Historically, Whipple's disease has been considered an gastro-intestinal disorder, however, in the 1960s it was realized that other organs could be involved, with or without intestinal infection. It is now considered a systemic infection with a wide range of possible symptoms.