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Burkholderia pseudomallei in PNG

Burkholderia pseudomallei is an environmental bacterium that causes melioidosis, a frequently fatal cause of community acquired pneumonia and sepsis in the tropics. Recently a focus of melioidosis has been described in the Gogodala community of the Balimo district of Western Province, Papua New Guinea, and in the past there have been cases reported from Port Moresby General Hospital. It is likely that melioidosis is an under recognized disease throughout rural PNG. Infection is linked to exposure to the organism in the environment; however, little is known about the ecology of the organism, and what factors promote it survival and persistence in the environment.
The main objectives of the study are to:

(1) determine the environmental prevalence and preferred niche of B. pseudomallei in PNG;
(2) use multilocus sequence typing (MLST), variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) and whole genome sequencing analysis to determine ancestral origins and movement of PNG derived B. pseudomallei throughout the region.

This work is funded through a grant obtained by the Australian Burkholderia Consortium. Sample collection commenced in 2011 and the study will be completed in 2013. It is being conducted in Western Province and East Sepik Province, in collaboration with researchers from James Cook University, Queensland, Australia, Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin, Australia and University of North Arizona, USA.


Infection and Immunity



Dr William Pomat
Deputy Director - Science and Unit Head

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