Whipple's disease is caused by a bacterial infection. It can affect most organ systems but most commonly develops in the gastrointestinal tract. This disease is extremely rare, affecting only one in one million people. Little is known about the bacteria that causes this disease, and experts have identified few risk factors. Whipple's disease is primarily seen in Caucasian men between the ages of 40 and 60 in Europe and North America. People who work around wastewater or sewage are also at higher risk.
When Whipple's disease begins to affect the gastrointestinal system, the small intestine can no longer absorb the nutrients the body needs. This is called malabsorption, and the issue specifically affects the body's ability to effectively break down carbohydrates and fats.
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