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The Aftermath of the Western Australian Melioidosis Outbreak

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  • Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, PathWest Laboratory Medicine, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia; Microbiology and Immunology, Biology, Biochemistry, and Biomolecular Medicine, Faculty of Applied and Physical Sciences, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia; School of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia; Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, Western Australia
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Melioidosis became a notifiable disease in Western Australia (WA) 2 years after the West Kimberley melioidosis outbreak. Two cases of melioidosis caused by the outbreak genotype of Burkholderia pseudomallei (National Collection of Type Cultures [NCTC] 13177) occurred in 1998 and 1999 in persons who visited the outbreak location at the time. No other infections caused by the outbreak strain have been recorded in WA since that time, despite an average of four culture-positive cases per year. Sporadic cases of melioidosis often follow tropical storms and cyclones during summer, and they have been detected outside the endemic area when cyclones travel far inland. In 2007, environmental isolates resembling NCTC 13177 were found 500 km east of the outbreak location after unusually severe weather. Recent whole-genome analysis places NCTC 13177 genetically close to other Australian isolates. Additional biogeographic and ecological studies are needed to establish the relative importance of environmental cofactors in disease pathogenesis.

Author Notes

*Address correspondence to Timothy J. J. Inglis, Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA, Locked bag 2009, Nedlands, Western Australia 6009, Australia. E-mail: tim.inglis@health.wa.gov.au

Authors' addresses: Timothy J. J. Inglis, Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA, Microbiology and Immunology, Biology, Biochemistry, and Biomolecular Medicine, Faculty of Applied and Physical Sciences, University of Western Australia, and School of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Australia, E-mail: tim.inglis@health.wa.gov.au. Lyn O'Reilly and Avram Levy, Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA, E-mails: Lyn.O'Reilly@health.wa.gov.au and avram.levy@health.wa.gov.au. Adam J. Merritt, Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA and Microbiology and Immunology, Biology, Biochemistry, and Biomolecular Medicine, Faculty of Applied and Physical Sciences, University of Western Australia. Christopher Heath, Microbiology and Immunology, Biology, Biochemistry, and Biomolecular Medicine, Faculty of Applied and Physical Sciences, University of Western Australia, School of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Australia, and Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, Western Australia, E-mail: Chris.Health@health.wa.gov.au.

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