January 21, 2009

Bacterium affected by land practices

Australian scientists say they've discovered the pathogenic soil bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei is influenced by land management practices.

Researchers at the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin, Australia, said they found the bacterium, which causes the emerging infectious disease melioidosis in humans and animals, is associated with land management changes such as livestock husbandry or residential gardening.

These findings raise concerns that B. pseudomallei may spread due to the influence of land management changes, said study author Mirjam Kaestli. 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.

The study appears in the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.