Wet season disease a concern: Health authorities


HEALTH services have put a warning out after a number of reported cases of Meliondosis in Far North Queensland.

Tropical Public Health Services Director, Dr Richard Gair, said four cases of the soil-borne disease had been confirmed, three cases in the Torres Strait and one in the Cairns area.

They are asking people to avoid unnecessary contact with muddy water which is where the germ is typically found.

“This is a high number in a short period” Dr Gair said.

“The majority of infections occur when skin abrasions or wounds come into contact with wet soil or water contaminated by the bacteria Burkholderia pseudomallei,” he said.

“Melioidosis is very uncommon in healthy adults and rarely seen in children however those with certain underlying diseases and conditions like diabetes, chronic lung or kidney disease and cancer are considered highly vulnerable.

“Symptoms of acute Melioidosis include fever, cough and difficulty breathing; the effects can be very severe and almost always result in hospitalisation.

“Sometimes the disease may present as superficial skin infections or abscesses in various part of the body.”

Prevention of Melioidosis

There is no vaccine to prevent Melioidosis. During the wet season adults, particularly anyone in north Queensland with an underlying medical condition should take the following precautions:

• Wear protective footwear when outdoors ?

• Wear gloves while working in the garden, on the farm etc. ?

• Cover abrasions and sores with waterproof dressings ?

• Wash thoroughly (preferably shower) after exposure to soil or muddy water, and after working ?outdoors ?

• Diabetics should maintain optimal foot care, with help from a podiatrist if necessary. ?