What is Melioidosis?
Melioidosis is an infection caused by a bacterium called Burkholderia pseudomallei. It is endemic in tropical areas like Southeast Asia and Australia. In Mainland, it occurs in the southern regions of Hainan, Guangdong and Guangxi. Incubation period usually ranges from 3 to 5 days, but can be as long as months or even years. Symptoms may include high fever, rigors, breathlessness and muscle pain. Clinical condition is usually serious. Case fatality rate can be as high as 30 to 90%.
How does it spread?
The source of infection is usually water and soil in endemic areas. People are infected by contact with contaminated waters and soil usually through broken skin or wounds; or through aspiration of contaminated waters or soil via the respiratory tract. Some people may be infected through consumption of contaminated water or food.
How can you prevent it?
There is no vaccine for Melioidosis. Travellers visiting endemic areas may have risks of infection and should adopt the following precautions:-
- avoid contact with contaminated water and soil.
- observe food hygiene and avoid drinking raw water.
- observe personal hygiene when in contact with sick persons and sick animals, and disinfect skin after such contacts.
How is it treated?
Infected people should receive sensitive antibiotics like chloramphenicol and doxycycline early in the course. A course of 30 days is usually required.