Now in its 25th year, the Darwin Prospective Melioidosis Study aims to understand the clinical and microbiological aspects of melioidosis in the Top End, and to use this information to lessen the burden of the disease, through earlier diagnosis and improved treatment. Over the duration of the study there has been a large decrease in the mortality rate from melioidosis.

In the last five years there has been a dramatic rise in melioidosis cases in tropical Northern Australia. Between 1 October 2009 and 30 September 2010, a then record number of 91 confirmed melioidosis cases were recorded. Of these, 11 proved fatal. This compares with a median of 27 cases per 12 month period over the previous 20 years. Subsequently, there were 64 cases in 2010/2011 and 97 cases in 2011/2012.

The rise in the proportion of cases from the Darwin urban region has been particularly striking and the reasons for this are being assessed. In addition, the genetic diversity of the Burkholderia pseudomallei strains from the various locations over recent years is being determined, with a particular focus on those strains that originate from higher risk Darwin suburbs.

Chief investigator:
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The study commenced in 1989 and is ongoing.

  • National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)


Centre for Disease Control resources:


  1. Currie, B., Howard,D., Nguyen, V. T., Withnall, K. & Merianos, A. (1993). The 1990-1991 outbreak of melioidosis in the Northern Territory of Australia: clinical aspects. The Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health 24(3): 436-443.
  2. Currie, B. J., Fisher, D. A., Anstey, N. M., & Jacups, S. P. (2000). Melioidosis: acute and chronic disease, relapse and re-activation. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 94(3), 301-304.
  3. Currie, B. J., Mayo, M., Anstey, N.M., Donohoe, P., Haase, A., &  Kemp, D.J. (2001). A cluster of melioidosis cases from an endemic region is clonal and is linked to the water supply using molecular typing of Burkholderia pseudomallei isolates. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 65(3), 177-179.
  4. Currie, B.J., Jacups, S.P., Cheng,A.C., Fisher, D.A., Anstey, N.M., Huffam, S.E. et al. (2004). Melioidosis epidemiology and risk factors from a prospective whole-population study in northern Australia. Tropical Medicine & International Health 9(11), 1167-1174.
  5. Cheng, A.C., Jacups,S.P., Gal, D., Mayo, M., & Currie, B.J. (2006). Extreme weather events and environmental contamination are associated with case-clusters of melioidosis in the Northern Territory of Australia. The International Journal of Epidemiology, 35(2), 323-329.
  6. Morse, L. P., Carson, P.J. & Currie, B.J. (2009). Burkholderia pseudomallei Prostatic Abscess; 37 cases from a 10 year prospective melioidosis study. BJU International, 103, 35-35.
  7. Currie, B.J., Ward, L. & Cheng, A.C. (2010). The Epidemiology and Clinical Spectrum of Melioidosis: 540 Cases from the 20 Year Darwin Prospective Study. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 4(11).
  8. Meumann, E.M., Cheng, A.C., Ward, L. & Currie, B.J. (2012). Clinical Features and Epidemiology of Melioidosis Pneumonia: Results From a 21-Year Study and Review of the Literature. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 54(3), 362-369.
  9. Parameswaran, U., Baird, R.W., Ward, L.M. & Currie, B.J. (2012). Melioidosis at Royal Darwin Hospital in the big 2009-2010 wet season: comparison with the preceding 20 years. Medical Journal of Australia, 196(5): 345-348.
  10. Morse, L.P., Smith, J., Mehta, J., Ward, L. Cheng, A.C., & Currie, B.J. (2013). Osteomyelitis and septic arthritis from infection with Burkholderia pseudomallei: A 20-year prospective melioidosis study from northern Australia. The Journal of Orthopaedic Science, 10(2), 86-91.