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Melioidosis in Australia (Update)

14 Jun 2012

New cases of melioidosis continue to be reported from the Northern Territory of Australia during the wet season. There have been 97 cases identified locally and 9 related deaths so far; this is a record number of cases in one wet season. Cases of melioidosis have spiked in the last three years in the Northern Territory and is thought to be due to strong wet seasons.

Most cases of melioidosis are reported from the Northern Territory, however, the disease is also endemic in Queensland, which is east of the Northern Territory.

Advice for Travellers

Melioidosis is caused by a bacteria that is transmitted via contaminated soil. People can become infected by walking in muddy water, handling muddy items, or breathing air-borne particles while using high-powered hoses. Travellers should take precautions against the disease by wearing waterproof shoes, gloves, and masks when gardening or cleaning up after floods.

Those most at risk include those with underlying conditions, such as diabetes, heavy alcohol intake, cancer, advanced age, kidney or lung disease and those being treated for cancer and on long-term steroid therapy medicines.