In 2011, we commenced a study of melioidosis cases in the Northern Territory. This study characterised roughly 1000 Burkholderia pseudomallei isolates to investigate the geographical spread of the bacterium in Australia.

This work suggests that B. pseudomallei is not frequently dispersed long distances and supports previous reports that the bacterium is ancient and likely originated in Australia.

Another facet of this study looked at ground water supplies that were implicated in outbreaks of melioidosis. Using whole genome sequencing, we were able to identify the exact water supply that had infected two individuals. Treating this supply with UV radiation sterilised the water and made it safe for drinking.

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The project commenced in March 2011 and is set for completion in September 2014.

  • National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
  • Professor Paul Keim, Northern Arizona University 
  • Associate Professor Jeff Warner, James Cook University.
  1. McRobb, E., Kaestli, M., Mayo, M., Price, E.P., Sarovich, D.S., Godoy, D., Spratt, B.G., & Currie, B.J. (2013). Melioidosis from contaminated bore water and successful UV sterilization. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 89, 367-368.