Study finds under-reported disease to be endemic killer

A study has found that the bacterial disease melioidosis was responsible for the deaths of up to 89,000 people worldwide in 2015.

The study conducted by Oxford University, Thailand's Mahidol University and the University of Washington - Seattle was released late Monday and found that the disease was widely under-reported.

The report shows that melioidosis was responsible for nearly as many deaths globally as measles in 2015.

"Melioidosis has been recognised for more than 100 years," said study co-author Direk Limmathurotsakul, head of microbiology at the Mahidol-Oxford Research Unit based in Bangkok.

"Awareness of [the disease] is still low even among medical and laboratory staff in confirmed endemic areas.”

Melioidosis is caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei, a pathogen found in soil and water in South and South-East Asia.

It is contracted through the skin, lungs or by drinking contaminated water, and if left untreated results in fatality rates exceeding 70 per cent.

“We hope that this paper will help raise awareness ... as the disease can be treated if it is caught early enough,” said David Dance, an Oxford University researcher.

Last update: Tue, 12/01/2016 - 11:49

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