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DATE: February 12, 2019

SNIP: A senior tropical disease researcher is warning that cases of the potentially lethal soil-borne infectious disease melioidosis will increase due to climate change.

Melioidosis is caused by a soil-dwelling bacterium and can lead to pneumonia, blood poisoning and death.

Authorities in Townsville yesterday confirmed a person had died from the disease and several others were in intensive care following widespread flooding in the region.

Professor Bart Currie from the Menzies School of Health in Darwin said he expected the bacteria would increase in tropical regions due to the effects of climate change.

Melioidosis lives beneath the soil’s surface year-round in the tropics but comes to the surface — and poses a greater risk to humans — following heavy rain.

Dr Currie said predictions showed increased temperatures and a greater number of severe weather events in the future would provide conditions for the bacteria to thrive.