Contaminated water found to be spreading melioidosis

The bacterium causing the disease, Burkholderia pseudomallei, has been found in run-off and stormwater in Townsville, which may explain why the infection often peaks during the wet season and after periods of extreme weather, the researchers from James Cook University (JCU) said.

Mark Mayo, melioidosis project manager at the Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin, said that with the bacterium also being discovered in run-off water and soil in the NT, people living throughout the tropical north should take measures to reduce their risk.

“This should serve as a public health message to make sure people... take precautions to avoid infection such as wearing covered footwear... in wet areas and cleaning any sores and cuts exposed to the environment,” he said. 

In Townsville, the mortality rate from melioidosis has been reported at about 20%, JCU associate professor of microbiology Jeff Warner said.

The JCU research,