Published On: Sat, Feb 3rd, 2024
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Australia holiday warning as two die from dangerous bacteria found in swimming hotspot | World | News

Tourists have been warned to stay vigilant after two people died from an infection they caught while swimming in a popular holiday hotspot in Australia.

The tropical disease melioidosis has infected 22 others who also swam in the Top End in the Northern Territory of Australia, a tropical oasis consisting of Darwin, Kakadu National Park, Arnhem Land, and the Katherine region, where the tropics meet the Outback

Melioidosis can be deadly and is caused by bacteria found deep in tropical soil and water which can be pushed to the surface during heavy rain, reports 7News.

Soil and water can infect people and animals through contact with skin abrasions, inhaled dust and water droplets in wind.

Northern Territory Health has said that six of the 22 known cases since last October have only been diagnosed in the last week.

Queensland authorities have also urged people in affected areas to not enter waters due to the risk of infection. Queensland has had nine confirmed cases of melioidosis since the start of January, a level high for the time of year.

NT Health warned more cases were expected and people living in tropical conditions should be aware of melioidosis symptoms.

“If left untreated, melioidosis can lead to severe pneumonia and blood poisoning, with around 10 percent of infections leading to death,” NT Health said.

“Melioidosis most often causes lung infections presenting with fever, cough and shortness of breath but can also affect other parts of the body, causing abscesses. Skin sores that don’t heal can be caused by melioidosis bacteria.”

Annually in the Northern Territory, about 50 people are diagnosed with melioidosis, mostly between November and April.

But in the 2022 to 2023 wet season, there was a high number of cases with 87 infections and six deaths.

NT Health has advised people coming into contact with soil and water the following: “Wear covered waterproof footwear when outdoors, wear gloves while working in the garden or a soil-based environment, wear a face mask while using high-pressure hoses around soil and paths.

“Wash then cover sores and abrasions with waterproof dressings. Seek medical attention early.”

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