Introduction: Bacterial colonisation and invasive bacterial infection remain the major causes of mortality and morbidity following severe burn thus ongoing surveillance of patients and monitoring of infection facilitates early intervention to minirnise the risk of sepsis. The circumstances of the Bali bombings in October 2002, provided an opportunity to analyse the ramifications of lengthy transfer times, delayed resuscitation and topical treatment, on the primary incidence of burn wound infection (BWI).Method: This prospective clinical audit investigated the primary incidence of BWI between the usual burn patients admitted to the Burn Unit at Royal Perth Hospital, Western Australia, and a number of survivors from the Bali bombings during a 3-month audit period in 2002. BWI was identified using the Peck et al. proposed definitions for the surveillance of burn wound infections. These include impetigo, surgical wound related infection, cellulitis and invasive infection of unexcised wounds. Results: The incidence of primary BWI in the Bali-tourist group (68.2%) compared with the standard WA group (18.2%) was significant (P = 0.001).Conclusion: Sensitive assessment criteria allowed for early identification of wound infection. A clinically significant difference in the Bali-tourist group is probably related to the circumstances of their injury. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd and ISBI. All rights reserved.