Melioidosis has a fatality rate upwards of 70 percent and affects the same number of people each year as measles. Oh, by the way, it is resistant to most antibiotics.
A new study estimates that 11 million people a year are at risk of getting this disease and it is a prime candidate to be used as a weapon because of its resistance to antibiotics and its ability to survive on land and in water for years and can potentially be transmitted through the air.
This study is the evidence-based estimate indicating the extent of melioidosis. Burkholderia pseudomallei (melioidosis) is found in the soil and water in South Asia and northern Australia.
‘Although melioidosis has been recognised for more than 100 years, awareness of it is still low, even among medical and laboratory staff in confirmed endemic areas,’ said study co-author Dr. Direk Limmathurotsakul, Head of Microbiology at MORU and Assistant Professor at Mahidol University (Thailand).
‘We predict that the burden of this disease is likely to increase in the future because the incidence of diabetes mellitus is increasing and the movements of people and animals could lead to the establishment of new endemic areas.’
‘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 underestimated as an important public health problem across the world,’ said Dr. Limmathurotsakul.
‘Our study predicts high infection rates in countries like India and Vietnam, where the disease is gradually being recognized more frequently.’