Change in land use could spread pneumonia-causing killer bacteria

January 27th, 2009 - 5:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Jan 27 (IANS) Change in land use pattern could spread pneumonia-causing killer bacteria, found near streams and grass rich areas, to livestock or cultivated areas near human habitations, according to latest research. “These findings raise concerns that B. pseudomallei may spread due to the influence of land management changes,” said the study’s co-author Mirjam Kaestli of the Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin.

“This would increase the risk of human and livestock exposure to these potentially deadly bacteria which are transmitted by contact with contaminated soil or surface water through cuts in the skin or inhalation,” she said.

B. pseudomallei lives in tropical soil and is endemic in southeast Asia and northern Australia, where it can be a common cause of fatal community-acquired bacterial pneumonia.

In predisposed hosts such as those with diabetes, it can also lead to systemic sepsis, with mortality rates over 50 per cent.

Through a large survey in the tropical Darwin area, the study’s authors found that the environmental factors describing the soil habitat of B. pseudomallei differed between undisturbed sites and areas dug up for cultivation.

At undisturbed sites, B. pseudomallei was primarily found close to streams and in grass-rich areas, whereas in cultivated sites, it was associated with the presence of livestock animals, lower soil pH and irrigation.

Highest B. pseudomallei counts were retrieved from paddocks, pens and kennels holding livestock and dogs, said a Menzies release.

The study was published in the open-access journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |