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The 1990-1991 outbreak of melioidosis in the Northern Territory of Australia: epidemiology and environmental studies.

Authors
  • Merianos, A
  • Patel, M
  • Lane, J M
  • Noonan, C N
  • Sharrock, D
  • Mock, P A
  • Currie, B
Type
Published Article
Journal
The Southeast Asian journal of tropical medicine and public health
Publication Date
Sep 01, 1993
Volume
24
Issue
3
Pages
425–435
Identifiers
PMID: 7512752
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

From November 1990 to June 1991 33 acute cases of melioidosis occurred in the Northern Territory, Australia; 25 cases were reported in the capital city, Darwin. We carried out an epidemiological investigation to exclude a common source outbreak, describe the risk factors for disease, and develop and institute appropriate control measures. We compared population based attack rates among various risk groups using logistic regression, and the demographic, medical and behavioral risk factors for melioidosis by a matched case-control study. Environmental Health Officers collected soil, surface water and cooling tower water specimens for Pseudomonas pseudomallei culture. The crude attack rate of melioidosis during the outbreak was 52 per 100,000. Age, gender, race, diabetes and alcohol abuse were independent risk factors for disease. The relative risk of disease in diabetic patients was 12.9 (95% CI 5.1-32.7; p < 0.001) and 6.7 in alcoholic patients (95% CI 2.9-15.2; p < 0.001). We found no significant difference between cases and controls in matched pair analysis for any of several exposure factors studied. We isolated Pseudomonas pseudomallei from 4% of soil samples and 9% of surface water samples. Our study confirms the importance of host factors in the development of melioidosis, and attempts to quantify the risk of disease during the Darwin epidemic. Pseudomonas pseudomallei is widespread in the soil of urban Darwin.

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