Melioidosis is an infectious disease that can infect humans or animals. The disease is caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. It is predominately a disease of tropical climates, especially in Southeast Asia and northern Australia where it is widespread. The bacteria causing melioidosis are found in contaminated water and soil. It is spread to humans and animals through direct contact with the contaminated source.


Melioidosis, a zoonotic disease, is caused by infection of Burkholderia pseudomallei existing in soil or water, which mainly distributes in tropical areas between 20 degree North and 20 degree South latitude. The major epidemic areas for the disease are Southeast Asia and northern Australia and the epidemic time is monsoon season in these areas. Since Taiwan is geographically located near the melioidosis-distributed latitude and covers areas of both tropical and subtropical climate regions, she has a similar risk of melioidosis infection as that in countries of Southeast Asia.

In 1985, the first melioidosis case, an imported case from Philippines, was reported in Taiwan. The confirmed melioidosis cases in Taiwan mainly clustered in Kaohsiung-Pingtung region (Kaohsiung City and Pingtung County), followed by southern Taiwan region (Tainan City). The number of cases of melioidosis increased obviously following the strikes of typhoon.

Melioidosis Surveillance in Taiwan

Taiwan National Infectious Disease Statistics System--Melioidosis

Prevention and Control

  1. Persons with open skin wounds and those with diabetes or chronic renal disease are at increased risk for melioidosis and should avoid contact with soil and standing water.
  2. Those who perform agricultural work should wear boots, which can prevent infection through the feet and lower legs.


  1. How do people get Melioidosis?
    • (1)People can get Melioidosis through direct contact with contaminated soil and surface waters. Humans and animals are believed to acquire the infection by inhalation of contaminated dust or water droplets, ingestion of contaminated water, and contact with contaminated soil, especially through skin abrasions.
    • (2)It is very rare for people to get the disease from another person. While a few cases have been documented, contaminated soil and surface water remain the primary way in which people become infected.
  2. What are the risk factors of Melioidosis?
    • (1)The occurrence of melioidosis was associated with typhoon, rainfall, flood, and underlying diseases. Under very heavy rain conditions, the infection of melioidosis may occur mainly through inhalation.
    • (2)Previous studies indicated that melioidosis patients have a higher percentage of having underlying diseases, such as diabetes, kidney disease, Cancer or another immune-suppressing condition, Chronic Lung disease (such as cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and bronchiectasis), and thalassemia.

Source: USA CDC, Available at: 

More Information

USA CDC|Melioidosis



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PublishTime 2014/11/24