Only a slight bump in the river height

Source: Bureau of Meteorology.
Source: Bureau of Meteorology.

The first big rain of the wet season has produced only a slight bump in river heights.

Bureau of Meteorology data shows the Katherine River rose by a small amount after the 50mm fell on the weekend.

It was the first decent rain in many local parts since April.

It is interesting to look at the past charts of the first rains of the past 16 rains to see how “late” this first opening salvo above 10mm was recorded.

Measured at the Katherine Country Club’s weather station.

11/11/2017 47mm

20/11/2016      18.6 mm

04/11/2015      20mm

06/11/2014      20mm

15/10/2013      13mm

06/11/2012      10.8mm

13/10/2011      (20mm)

13/10/2010      29mm

12/12/2009      14.8mm

15/11/2008      17.4mm

31/10/2007      15.4mm

18/11/2006      15mm

10/10/2005      19.4mm

08/11/2004      43mm

11/11/2003      30.6mm

06/11/2002      18.2mm

12/10/2001      45.8mm

19/10/2000      89mm

The bureau is forecasting cool maximum temperatures, about 35 degrees, and the likelihood for more rain and storms throughout the week.

The long-term average for Katherine in November is 93.3mm.

The Katherine Times’ competition of a new rain gauge has also been won after the first falls above 10mm rain so we check our records and notify the winner.

As well, the NT Government is warning people the rains signal start of Melioidosis season.

Particularly in the Top End, residents and visitors are reminded to protect themselves from the potentially deadly soil-borne disease, melioidosis.

Contact with mud, ground water and aerosolised soil during the wet season increases the chance of exposure to the melioidosis bacteria.

“During the Dry season, melioidosis bacteria live deep within the soil, but after heavy rains they can be found in surface water and mud and aerosolised soil. In past years, an increase in cases usually follows heavy rains as well as after cyclones and floods,” Dr Vicki Krause, Director of Centre of Disease Control said.

“Cuts and sores are the perfect entry point for the bacteria to invade the body but it can also be inhaled if it’s stirred up by the wind.”

Melioidosis can be a life threatening disease, which requires prompt and aggressive antibiotic treatment. The time from infection to acute disease ranges from one to 21 days. Melioidosis can cause a variety of symptoms and signs including skin ulcers or sores that fail to heal, abscesses, unexplained fevers, weight loss, fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, urinary symptoms and occasionally neurological problems such as headache and confusion

Melioidosis infection can lead to severe pneumonia and blood poisoning with 10 - 15 percent of infections ending in death, even with best medical care.

“In our last wet season, there were 53 cases of melioidosis reported in the Northern Territory with 5 deaths.”

People most at risk of developing melioidosis have an underlying condition that impairs the immune system. These conditions include diabetes, heavy alcohol intake, cancer, advanced age kidney and lung disease. 

Drugs used to treat cancer and long term steroid therapy can also impair the immune system.

While most people diagnosed with melioidosis have one or more risk factors, healthy people can become infected if they are working in mud, soil or pooled water without good hand and foot protection.

All people in the Top End are advised to take some simple precautions to minimise the risk of contracting this disease.

“Protect your feet from getting cuts and being exposed to mud - wear shoes and boots if working in mud. If you are working with soil or mud-soaked items, wear gloves.”

"If you have cuts or blisters and compromised skin, make sure you keep the area clean and covered and protected from soil."

People using high pressure hoses around soil should cover their mouths and noses as the bacteria can be inhaled. It’s very important that people who are particularly at risk of getting melioidosis stay indoors during heavy wind and rain.

Anyone concerned about melioidosis should visit their local GP or hospital.

Further information on melioidosis can be obtained from the Centre for Disease Control on 8922 8044, your local doctor and community care/health centres.

A fact sheet with more information on melioidosis is available at https://nt.gov.au/wellbeing/health-conditions-treatments/bacterial/melioidosis