A new bacterial disease that mimics other diseases is spreading in 79 countries, said the Oxford University Statement.
The disease called as melioidosis is caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei, a highly pathogenic bacterium commonly found in soil and water in South and Southeast Asia and northern Australia. It spreads through the skin and lungs or by contaminated drinking water.
The bacterium is resistant to a wide range of antimicrobials and inadequate treatment may result in fatality rates exceeding 70%.
"Our study predicts high infection rates in countries like India and Vietnam, where the disease is gradually being recognized more frequently. Awareness of the disease is low even among health workers," said Direk Limmathurotsakul, co-author of the study.
People at high-risk of the diseases include patients with diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease or excessive alcohol intake.
"Melioidosis is a great mimicker of other diseases and you need a good microbiology laboratory for bacterial culture and identification to make an accurate diagnosis. It especially affects the rural poor in the tropics who often do not have access to microbiology labs, which means that it has been greatly under estimated as an important public health problem across the world," said Limmathurotsakul.
The study estimated that melioidosis killed 89,000 of the 165,000 people who contracted it in 2015. They found that the disease is severely under-reported in most of the 45 countries where it is known to be endemic.
We predict that the burden of this disease is likely to increase in the future because the incidence of diabetes mellitus is increasing and the movements of people and animals could lead to the establishment of new endemic areas," said Limmathurotsakul.