Bore water in NT found to harbour melioidosis bacteria
BORES used for drinking water and irrigation in the Northern Territory are commonly contaminated with the bacteria Burkholderia pseudomallei, which can cause melioidosis, scientists say.
Water samples were taken from 55 bores, their related tanks and taps within a 30 km radius of Darwin, and 18 (33%) were culture positive for the bacteria, which is endemic to Australia’s tropics, a study found.
More than half of the bores found to contain the bacteria tested positive again on a follow-up sample.
Nine distinct strains of the bacteria were observed, including some which may pose no threat to human health.
“We estimate that more than 3000 such bores are in rural areas and provide unchlorinated water to as many as 10,000 persons,” researchers at the Menzies School of Health Research reported.
Travellers and residents need to be aware that each year, 25–50 human cases of melioidosis occur in the NT.