Melioidosis in Northern Australia, 2001-02

Allen Cheng, J Hanna, Robert Norton, S Hills, J DAVIS, Vicki Krause, G Dowse, T INGLIS, Bart Currie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Melioidosis, caused by the gram negative bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei, is endemic in northern Australia. Using data collated from centres in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland, this report describes the epidemiology of this disease between 1 November, 2001 and 31 October, 2002. There were 47 cases seen during this period with an average annual incidence of 5.8 cases per 100,000 population. In Indigenous Australians, an incidence of 25.5 cases per 100,000 population was seen. The timing and location of cases was generally correlated with rainfall across northern Australia. A case-cluster in a Queensland community was associated with post-cyclonic flooding. Risk factors included diabetes, alcohol-related problems and renal disease. Pneumonia (51%) was the most common clinical diagnosis. The mortality rate attributable to melioidosis was 21 per cent, although a number of other patients died of underlying disease. Despite improvements in recognition and treatment, melioidosis is still associated with a high morbidity and mortality, particularly in Indigenous Australians.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-277
Number of pages6
JournalCommunicable diseases intelligence
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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