The spread of tropical diseases to regions previously free of these diseases is one consequence of climate change. A 2016 study identified parts of Texas and Florida as vulnerable for establishment of Burkholderia pseudomallei, the causative agent of melioidosis. Melioidosis is now endemic in Central America and the Caribbean, including Mexico and Puerto Rico. Increased temperatures, flooding events, and movements of infected animals are cited as possible mechanisms for the spread of melioidosis beyond the tropics. Because of difficulties in diagnosis and high levels of drug resistance, melioidosis has high rates of fatality (54% compared to 15% for malaria and is estimated to kill more people each year than more well-known diseases such as leptospirosis and dengue. Key aims of this project are to use existing data about soil, water, weather, land use, and melioidosis risk factors to generate geospatial data and maps that can identify ecological niches in Texas for B. pseudomallei and related soil organisms.
Stan Roux (Molecular Biosciences), Katherine Brown (Molecular Biosciences), Jessica Trelogan (Libraries), Michael Shensky (Libraries), and a TBD TACC collaborator