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Potentially Deadly Bacteria Kills One During Flood Clean-Up Phase

UPDATE | A potentially deadly soil-borne bacteria we warned residents about on Tuesday, has claimed a life in Townsville.

Doctor Julie Mudd, Public Health Physician, Townsville Public Health Unit confirmed there have been a further two confirmed cases of melioidoses taking the number of cases to 10 and "sadly we’ve also had one death".

Given the scale of the flooding we are expecting to see increasing numbers of a range of infections, not just melioidosis, and we are proactively testing for these illnesses.

Melioidosis and many infections that stem from flooding can more severely impact people who are unwell or elderly or have existing chronic conditions.

We are asking the community to check on their neighbours, it is important. Check in on the elderly, sick or disabled and if they are unwell or have a fever call a doctor or an
ambulance.

If these people need help with the clean-up they shouldn’t be doing it themselves they should be asking for help from the SES or council.

Floodwater is heavily contaminated with dirt and bacteria. The vital public health message has been to ensure flood water doesn’t get into your body through cuts and scratches.

The key public health message has been for people to wear gloves and shoes during the clean-up to prevent infection.

For those people who are more susceptible to these illnesses we’ve consistently asked them to leave the clean-up to people who are fit and healthy.

EARLIER | Rare and exotic diseases are beginning to emerge, as people contract infections during the massive flood clean up underway in Townsville.

Townsville's Public Health Unit has reported several cases of soil-based melioidosis and Legionnaires disease.

Melioidosis, also called Whitmore's Disease.  According to medicinenet.com it is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Burkholderia pseudomallei (previously known as Pseudomonas pseudomallei).

The bacteria are found in contaminated water and soil and spread to humans and animals through direct contact with the contaminated source.

The mortality rate, for someone diagnosed with melioidosis is 40 per-cent.

The Unit is urging anyone with a wound to be mindful when entering floodwaters.

People involved in the clean-up are being urged to wear long pants and a shirt with sleeves.  Consider wearing a mask and a hat as well.  

It is being reported that as many as eight people have been infected with melioidosis at this stage.

People who have immunity issues, are already sick or on medication are most at risk.

By Michelle Price