Objectives: The aims of this study were to describe the epidemiology of melioidosis in tropical northern Australia and to assess the importance of defined risk factors.
Methods: The data were taken from a 14-year prospective study of 364 cases of melioidosis in the 'Top End' of the Northern Territory. A whole-population logistic regression model was used to estimate the crude and adjusted relative risk (RR) for the defined risk factors.
Results: The mean age of the study population was 46.8 years, 264 (72.5%) were male, 178 (49%) were aboriginal Australians and 59 (16.2%) died from melioidosis. Average annual incidence was 19.6 cases per 100 000 population, with an estimated rate of 260 cases per 100,000 diabetics per year. Using a whole-population logistic regression model, the estimated crude and adjusted RR [95% confidence intervals (CI)] for melioidosis were 6.3 (5.1-7.8) and 4.0 (3.2-5.1) for those aged > or = 45 years, 2.3 (1.8-2.9) and 2.4 (1.9-3.0) for males, 2.9 (2.3-3.5) and 3.0 (2.3-4.0) for aboriginal Australians, 21.2 (17.1-26.3) and 13.1 (9.4-18.1) for diabetics, 2.7 (2.2-3.4) and 2.1 (1.6-2.6) for those with excess alcohol consumption, 6.8 (5.4-8.6) and 4.3 (3.4-5.5) for chronic lung disease and 6.7 (4.7-9.6) and 3.2 (2.2-4.8) for chronic renal disease, respectively.
Conclusions: Diabetes, excess alcohol intake, chronic renal disease and chronic lung disease are each independent risk factors for melioidosis. In tropical northern Australia, male sex, aboriginal ethnicity and age of > or = 45 years are also independent predictors for melioidosis. Impaired polymorph function may be critical in the predisposition to melioidosis.