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The Darwin Prospective Melioidosis Study
The The Darwin Prospective Melioidosis Study is investigating why melioidosis is increasing in urban areas in the Northern Territory. The project, which is being undertaken by the Tropical and Emerging Infectious Disease division at Menzies School of Health Research, hopes to the reduce the the number of deaths from melioidosis through early diagnosis.
Melioidosis is a fatal, infectious disease and has become an emerging health concern in Northern Australia. Recent wet seasons have seen a dramatic increase in cases of melioidosis. As Darwin's urban areas spread and irrigation schemes and agriculture encroach into the desert, there is an even greater risk of spread of melioidosis.
The program has been ongoing since 1989 and has achieved a number of outcomes:
- helped to halve the death rate of melioidosis in the NT, where mortality rates fell from over 30% to under 15%
- documented and described the very diverse range of melioidosis symptoms through the analysis of over 800 cases
- developed the current treatment guidelines for melioidosis, which are now used globally
- discovered that the bacterium evolved in Australia and then spread to Southeast Asia via genetic profiling
- discovered that introduced grasses in the NT harbour had particularly high numbers of melioidosis bacteria, which may well impact current agricultural development in Northern Australia where non-native grasses are widely planted
- found that melioidosis bacteria may be carried and spread by birds
- discovered that melioidosis bacteria are common in un-chlorinated bore water in the NT.
The next stage of the project involves using new technology to sequence whole bacterial genomes, providing an opportunity to determine why urban melioidosis is increasing, and to analyse a unique 24+ year set of bacteria and their linked patient data to find the important bacterial factors, forming a foundation for future diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.
Abstract adapted from Menzies School of Health Research
Menzies School of Health Research
PO Box 41096
Casuarina NT 0811
Ph: (08) 8922 8196
Fax: (08) 8927 5187
Currie BJ, Mayo M, Anstey N, Donohoe P, Haase A, Kemp DJ (2001)
A cluster of melioidosis cases from an endemic region is clonal and is linked to the water supply using molecular typing of Burkholderia pseudomallei isolates.
American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene; 65(3): 177-179
Cheng AC, Jacups SP, Gal D, Mayo M, Currie BJ (2005)
Extreme weather events and environmental contamination are associated with case-clusters of melioidosis in the Northern Territory of Australia.
International Journal of Epidemiology; 35(2): 323-329
Parameswaran U, Baird RW, Ward LM, Currie BJ (2012)
Melioidosis at Royal Darwin Hospital in the big 2009-2010 wet season: comparison with the preceding 20 year.
Medical Journal of Australia; 196(5): 345-348
Currie B, Jacups SP, Cheng AC, Fisher DA, Anstey NM, Huffam SE, Krause VL (2004)
Melioidosis epidemiology and risk factors from a prospective whole population study in northern Australia.
Tropical Medicine & International Health; 9(11): 1167-1174
Currie BJ, Fisher DA, Anstey NM, Jacups SP (2000)
Melioidosis: acute and chronic disease, relapse and re-activation.
Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene; 94: 301-304
Morse LP, Smith J, Mehta J, Ward L, Cheng AC, Currie BJ (2013)
Osteomyelitis and septic arthritis from infection with Burkholderia pseudomallei: a 20-year prospective melioidosis study from northern Australia.
Journal of Orthopaedics; 10(2): 86-91
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