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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Melioidosis in Australia

09 Jan 2017

A media reportLinkof 5 January 2016 advises there have been 17 cases of melioidosis in the Northern Territory since October 2016, and 1 person has already died.

Melioidosis is caused by infection with a gram-negative bacterium which is usually dormant in the ground for most of the year, but comes to the surface during the wet season. Transmission of melioidosis can occur via contamination of wound or penetrating injury, inhalation and ingestion of contaminated food/water. Human to human transmission is extremely uncommon.

In response authorities reportedly warning that contact with mud, puddles and wind-blown soil during heavy rain increases the chance of exposure to the tropical disease.

Advice for Travellers

Travellers may become infected in endemic areas if walking in muddy water, handling muddy items, or breathing air-borne particles for example when using a high-powered hoses.

Travellers should take precautions against the disease by:

  • Staying indoors during heavy winds and rain.
  • Wearing waterproof shoes and gloves around mud and areas of pooled water.
  • Wearing masks when using high pressure hoses outside.