Published Date: 2004-03-08 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/EDR> Melioidosis - Australia (North Qld.)
Archive Number: 20040308.0654
MELIOIDOSIS - AUSTRALIA (NORTH QUEENSLAND)
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2004
From: ProMED-mail <email@example.com>
Source: Townsville Bulletin [edited]
Soil bug claims woman's life
A Townsville woman has died from melioidosis, sparking warnings that
precautions should be taken against the soil-borne disease. The
elderly woman died at Townsville Hospital on Thu, 27 Feb 2004. Hers
was the 2nd Townsville death from the disease in 2004.
The Tropical Public Health Unit revealed for the first time yesterday
a Townsville man had also died from melioidosis in recent weeks.
Public health physician Dr Jeffrey Hanna said there also had been 2
other cases in the city recently, as well as others across the
region. "6 other cases have been reported in North Queensland this
year -- 2 from the Torres Strait islands, 2 from northwest
Queensland, 1 from Cairns and 1 from Cape York," he said.
Melioidosis is an infection caused by bacteria living in the soil,
particularly in the tropical north of Australia. The disease usually
presents as either severe pneumonia or septicaemia. The Tropical
Public Health Unit said melioidosis was usually acquired through
scrapes or wounds on the skin having contact with contaminated soil
or water. Dr Hanna said the disease mainly affected people with
severe underlying medical conditions.
Late in 2003, James Cook University microbiology lecturer Dr Natkunam
Ketheesan said melioidosis had killed about 22 percent of 125 people
admitted to Townsville Hospital with the condition since 1996. That
amounted to 28 deaths from the disease in 7 years. Melioidosis was
emerging as a most concerning infectious disease, Dr Ketheesan said.
Townsville Hospital averages between 10-25 cases of melioidosis each
Tropical Public Health Unit figures show there were 38 melioidosis
cases in North Queensland in 2000, 11 of which resulted in death.
There were 8 cases in 2001, 23 in 2002, and 8 in 2003. Dr Hanna said
melioidosis was a wet-season disease and cases commonly increased
after heavy rain and flooding. He encouraged North Queensland
residents to wear gloves and footwear while gardening or working
outdoors. They should also cover wounds with waterproof dressings to
prevent exposure to contaminated soil or water, and wash their skin
thoroughly after any exposure.
"These measures are particularly important for people who have
underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic kidney or
lung disease, immune system problems, or people who have a very high
alcohol intake," he said. "Healthy people are at a very low risk of
be coming sick from melioidosis."
[Byline: Kylie Stockdale]
[Infection due to _Burkholderia pseudomallei_ (melioidosis) is
endemic in focal areas of southeast Asia and northern Australia.
Because _B. pseudomallei_ is deemed to be a category A biowarfare
agent, ProMED-mail may continue to post cases of the infection even
if from these endemic areas. A discussion of the infection can be
found in the ProMED-mail post, 20031217.3084. - Mod.LL]