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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Whipple disease

Other Names for this Disease
  • Intestinal lipodystrophy
  • Intestinal lipophagic granulomatosis
  • Secondary Non-tropical Sprue
  • Tropheryma whippelii infection
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How might Whipple disease be treated?

The standard treatment for Whipple disease is a prolonged course of antibiotics to destroy the bacteria that cause the disease.[1][2][3] A number of different types, doses, and schedules of antibiotics may be utilized in an effort to find the best treatment.[2] A medicine called ceftriaxone is commonly given intravenously as a first round defense. It is typically followed by an antibiotic (such as trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole) taken by mouth for up to 1 year. If symptoms come back during antibiotic use, the antibiotic treatment may be changed.[3]

Depending on the seriousness of the disease, treatment may also include fluid and electrolyte replacement. Electrolytes are salts and other substances in body fluid that the heart and brain need to function properly.[2] Extra iron, folate, vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium may also be given to help compensate for the vitamins and minerals the body cannot absorb on its own.[2][3]

Individuals who are being treated for Whipple disease should be closely monitored by a health care provider because signs of the disease can return after therapy has been finished.[3] Full recovery of the small intestine may take up to 2 years, but the symptoms usually disappear in less time. Because relapse is common even after successful treatment, the health care team may continue to monitor the patient for many years.[2]

Last updated: 8/1/2012

  1. NINDS Whipple's Disease Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). March 22, 2011; Accessed 8/1/2012.
  2. Whipple's Disease. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). April 30, 2012; Accessed 8/1/2012.
  3. Dugdale DC, Longstreth GF. Whipple's disease. MedlinePlus. May 1, 2012; Accessed 8/1/2012.