A SECOND person has died in the Top End after contracting melioidosis, a mud borne disease which thrives in the wet.
Twenty-nine people have been infected since October, including two fatalities.
Of the 29 patients, three hail from Katherine.
The bacteria, commonly known as gardener’s disease, is found in soil and muddy puddles across the Top End.
Health experts say that is double the number of cases in the same period last year.
Centre for Disease Control director Vicki Krause said infection can lead to severe pneumonia and blood poisoning.
“During the dry season, melioidosis bacteria live deep in the soil, but during the wet season, larger amounts of the bacteria come to the surface and the potential for contact with people is increased,” Dr Krause said.
The infection can enter the body through cuts, sores, inhalation of dirt particles or ingestion of contaminated water.
Mortality rate ranges from 10 to 15 per cent of cases.
Symptoms can be delayed for up to 21 days after infection and can include fever, coughing and breathing difficulties.
It is advised to stay indoors during heavy wind and rain, and wear waterproof footwear, particularly if you have a weakened immune system.
“Gardeners, labourers and other people who work with soil should always wear protective clothing, as healthy people can get the disease if they work in or are exposed to mud, pooled water or aerosolised soil,” she said.
Anyone concerned about melioidosis should contact their GP or hospital.