Deadly Waters

Survival of Burkholderia pseudomallei in seawater in an endemic region

This project investigates the survival of Burkholderia pseudomallei in seawater in an endemic region and looks at a potential increase in the geographic range for Burkholderia pseudomallei (Bp). Defining the global and local distribution of environmental B. pseudomallei is important for the development of a risk map for melioidosis, which in turn will help provide countries with new information to take preventive measures as well as raising awareness of this disease among healthcare workers in affected areas. Environmental sampling can be used to identify areas where people are at risk even before cases are recognised.

A recent finding by laboratory researchers at Menzies was live Bp present in seawater from 2 coastal water locations near the city of Darwin. This finding is unique as Bp does not tolerate saline environments.

Approximately half the cases of melioidosis reported to the Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH) being from the Darwin urban areas. Working under the supervision of Mark Mayo and Prof Bart Currie and staff from the melioidosis research program, undergraduate student Kelly McCrory will undertake a study to look at the presence of Burkholderia pseudomallei in seawater from coastal areas around Darwin.

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