Flooding in Ingham. Photo Chris Lees
Flooding in Ingham. Photo Chris Lees

‘Death and fever’ warning for flood victims, state facing wet weekend

DOCTORS are warning of a disease threat from mud and flooding after a spike in soil-borne disease cases in North Queensland.

Doctors have warned death and fever lurks in mud and floods now occurring after a spike in soil-borne disease cases in Far North Queensland.

Tropical Public Health Services (Cairns) Director Dr Richard Gair said there had been six confirmed cases of Melioidosis and nine confirmed cases of Leptospirosis since the start of the year.

"These diseases are both caused by bacteria typically found in soil and muddy surface waters," he said.

"While it might be tempting to play in puddles, these heavy rains are further increasing the risk of exposure to Melioidosis and Leptospirosis so our advice is to stay dry."

There has been one case in the Townsville region so far this year but authorities fear a spike following the big downpour this week.

There is also a threat to people in Ingham and Tully.

Senior medical officer at the Townsville Public Health Unit Dr Julie Mudd, warned soil bacteria was more common in the wet season.

"People can contract the disease from gardening and also cleaning up after flooding," she said.

Melioidosis can also be contracted through a cut or inhalation.

Symptoms of acute Melioidosis include fever, cough and difficulty breathing; the effects can be very severe and almost always result in hospitalisation. Sometimes the disease may present as superficial skin infections or abscesses in various part of the body.

Leptospirosis symptoms include fever, headaches, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and bloodshot eyes.

While North Queensland continues to deal with two days of rain and flooding, the rest of the Queensland coastline can expect an overcast weekend with a chance of showers.  

Every city from Rockhampton to Brisbane is forecast to expect showers over Saturday and Sunday.