Xstrata denies link to flesh-eating disease
The company that owns the MacArthur River Mine has rejected any link to a flesh-eating disease that has killed three people who came into contact with river and seawater in the Borroloola region.
An article published in the British Journal of Infection has connected high levels of heavy metals in the region with the disease.
The article, written by Top End tropical disease specialist Dr Bart Currie, cites four cases of the disease over the past seven years.
In the first case in 2000, a 55-year-old man who went fishing in rivers near the Nathan River homestead contracted the disease and died two years later.
In May 2001, a 63-year-old man who fished off Vanderlin Island died 18 days later from the disease and in April 2003 a 38-year-old Victorian man had his leg amputated after fishing in the Wearyan River.
As well, a 19-year-old woman died 24 hours after swimming in one of the region's waterways.
The article reported zinc and lead levels downstream from the mine are twice what they are upstream and that it is possible these levels could increase the risk of human infection from the disease.
Mine owner Xstrata say it is aware of the report but it does not link the mine to the cases.