Deadly Tropical Disease Threatens Millions
Posted by feww on January 13, 2016
Melioidosis killed 89,000 of the 165,000 people who contracted it in 2015
Melioidosis, a difficult to diagnose deadly bacterial disease, is probably present in many more countries than previously thought, says a paper published online in the journal Nature Microbiology. The study estimates that melioidosis is present in 79 countries, including 34 that have never reported the disease.
Melioidosis killed 89,000 of the 165,000 people [fatality rate of 54%] who contracted it last year – equivalent to the annual global mortality from measles (95,000 deaths per year) and greater than fatalities from leptospirosis (50,000 per year) or dengue (12,500 per year), two current health priorities for global health organizations.
Country colouring is based on evidence-based consensus, with green representing a complete consensus on absence of B. pseudomallei and red a complete consensus on presence of B. pseudomallei. Black dots represent geo-located records of melioidosis cases or presence of B. pseudomallei. Source: Nature Microbiology ISSN 2058-5276 (online)
“Melioidosis is a great mimicker of other diseases and you need a good microbiology laboratory for bacterial culture and identification to make an accurate diagnosis. It especially affects the rural poor in the tropics who often do not have access to microbiology labs, which means that it has been greatly under estimated as an important public health problem across the world,” said the report’s lead author.
“Our study predicts high infection rates in countries like India and Vietnam, where the disease is gradually being recognized more frequently.”
Melioidosis is a disease of public health importance in areas of Southeast Asia and Australia. It’s contracted through the skin, lungs or by drinking contaminated water and is difficult to diagnose because it mimics other diseases.
The bacterium is resistant to a wide range of antimicrobials and inadequate treatment could lead to fatality rates exceeding 70%.
Besides humans, many other animal species are susceptible to melioidosis including sheep, goats, swine, horses, cats, dogs and cattle. [CDC]
CDC considers melioidosis as a Bioterrorism Agent among four dozen other lethal diseases.
Predicted global distribution of Burkholderia pseudomallei and burden of melioidosis
Abstract [selected excerpts]
Burkholderia pseudomallei, a highly pathogenic bacterium that causes melioidosis, is commonly found in soil in Southeast Asia and Northern Australia. Melioidosis can be difficult to diagnose due to its diverse clinical manifestations and the inadequacy of conventional bacterial identification methods. The bacterium is intrinsically resistant to a wide range of antimicrobials, and treatment with ineffective antimicrobials may result in case fatality rates (CFRs) exceeding 70%. The importation of infected animals has, in the past, spread melioidosis to non-endemic areas. The global distribution of B. pseudomallei and the burden of melioidosis, however, remain poorly understood. Here, we map documented human and animal cases and the presence of environmental B. pseudomallei and combine this in a formal modelling framework8,9,10 to estimate the global burden of melioidosis. We estimate there to be 165,000 (95% credible interval 68,000–412,000) human melioidosis cases per year worldwide, from which 89,000 (36,000–227,000) people die. Our estimates suggest that melioidosis is severely underreported in the 45 countries in which it is known to be endemic and that melioidosis is probably endemic in a further 34 countries that have never reported the disease. The large numbers of estimated cases and fatalities emphasize that the disease warrants renewed attention from public health officials and policy makers.
Melioidosis is a disease of public health importance in areas of Southeast Asia and Australia, and is considered a potential emerging infectious disease in many tropical developing countries.
Predicted global distribution of Burkholderia pseudomallei and burden of melioidosis is published in
Nature Microbiology (DOI: 10.1038/nmicrobiol.2015.8).