About Infection and Chronic Disease
Central Australia has among the highest reported rates of invasive bacterial infection worldwide and infection remains the major cause of death for Aboriginal people admitted to Alice Springs Hospital. This occurs on a background of recurrent pneumonia and skin infections that provide portals of entry by which bacteria enter the blood stream. Our research seeks to understand the interactions between these life-threatening infections and non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and kidney disease. Diabetes, for example, increases the risk of skin infections and subsequent blood stream infections with virulent organisms, such as Staphylococcus aureus.
Conversely, chronic and recurrent infections generate an inflammatory milieu that may contribute to the development of non-communicable diseases, such as ischaemic heart disease and chronic kidney disease. In a setting in which rates of non-communicable diseases are rapidly increasing while background rates of infection remain high, improving health literacy is crucial and our research therefore also seeks to understand the barriers to improving health literacy in this context.