Ubon: 44 melioid scientists bonding in a rice field!


Ubon Ratchathani (Thailand) 18 September 2013 - WMC 2013 kicked off with an enormously successful and jam-packed two-day pre-congress workshop in Ubon Ratchathani 16-17 September attended by an excited party of 32 participants and a dozen international melioidosis experts from nine countries.

Ubon and northeastern Thailand are melioidosis hotspots, with an annual incidence of melioidosis that is currently 21.0 per 100,000 population, up from 4.4 per 100,000 for the period between 1987 and 1991 – a nearly five-fold increase. Ubon accounts for nearly 500 of Thailand’s 1,500 melioidosis cases annually.

The local doctors at Sappasithiprasong Hospital, led by Prof Vipada and Dr Prapit, shared their expertise to deliver excellent and succinct overviews of the spectrum of cases seen, including orthopaedic, ENT and ophthalmological manifestations.

Participants were divided into small groups to meet patients with the disease and spend time in the MORU laboratory with Narisara, Kung, Gumphol and Ma explaining their laboratory. Amazing food was laid on throughout including a spectacular meal at Salawan restaurant.

For many, the highlight of the trip was the pilgrimage to a rice field. For scientists who spend their lives working with Burkholderia pseudomallei in Western labs, the opportunity to stand in a field and see where the story begins was almost spiritual in nature. This also involved lots of hilarity as everyone put on overshoes and stomped around the paddies avoiding the ants, entertained by Gumphol’s expert demonstrations of air sampling.

The workshop was flawlessly organised by Dr. Wirongrong Chierakul, Chairperson of WMC2013 Organizing Committee and Dr. Vanaporn Wuthiekanun, MORU Senior Microbiologist, assisted by a small army of MORU Ubon staff. Everybody returned to Bangkok for the main congress full of priceless experience for their research and happy memories of Ubon hospitality.