Whipple's disease is a malabsorption disease. It interferes with the body's ability to absorb certain nutrients. The disease causes weight loss, irregular breakdown of carbohydrates and fats, resistance to insulin, and malfunctions of the immune system. When recognized and treated, Whipple's disease can be cured. Untreated, the disease is usually fatal.
Whipple's disease is caused by bacteria. It can affect any system of the body, but occurs most often in the small intestine. The disease causes lesions on the wall of the small intestine and thickening of the tissue. The villi--tiny, finger-like protrusions from the wall that help absorb nutrients--are destroyed.
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