Abstract: Author summary Melioidosis, caused by the environmental bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei, disproportionately affects Australian First Nations peoples in the Northern Territory of Australia. The Katherine region has some of the highest rates of homelessness in Australia, and social inequity impacts health outcomes for First Nations people whose access to care is further complicated by remoteness. In this study, we describe the clinical features and epidemiology of melioidosis in the Katherine region over a 32-year period. Almost three quarters of melioidosis cases were First Nations Australians, over half lived in a very remote region, and diabetes and hazardous alcohol consumption were common risk factors. Following a severe flooding event in the region in 1998, a spike in cases of melioidosis was seen, the majority presenting as skin and soft tissue infections. The B. pseudomallei isolates in the study were extremely genetically diverse, reflecting the large geographic area of the Katherine region. With predicted climate change-driven increases in severe weather events and subsequent increases in melioidosis cases, public health priorities in the region should include addressing high rates of homelessness and hazardous alcohol consumption, optimisation of diabetes management, and ongoing education in First Nations languages regarding prevention of B. pseudomallei exposure.
Hodgetts, Kay, Kleinecke, Mariana, Woerle, Celeste, Kaestli, Mirjam, Budd, Richard, Webb, Jessica R., Ward, Linda, Mayo, Mark, Currie, Bart J., Meumann, Ella M., 2022, Melioidosis in the remote Katherine region of northern Australia, Volume:16, Journal Article, viewed 06 December 2023, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=30610.