Burkholderia pseudomallei

Paul Auwaerter, M.D.
Burkholderia pseudomallei is a topic covered in the Johns Hopkins ABX Guide.

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  • Aerobic Gram-negative rod.
    • B. pseudomallei, member of Burkholderia genus.
    • Two other members, B. thailandensis (SE Asia, Australia), B. oklahomensis (Midwest U.S.), seen in environmental samples, unclear if a cause of disease.
  • Cause of melioidosis, most commonly seen in tropical climates of southeast Asia and northern Australia but described elsewhere including South and Central America, Africa.
    • Regions of greatest prevalence: Northern Territory of Australia, northeast Thailand.
  • Commonly found in surface waters and muddy soils but the mechanism of transmission remains unclear.
    • Described as colonizing rhizospheres and plant structures.
  • Human cases increase significantly during times of heavy rainfall.
    • Regular contact with soil and water are risk factors.
      • Increased risk with diabetes, COPD, alcoholism, chronic renal disease, thalassemia, malignancy, immunosuppression.
    • Acquired by inhalation, traumatic inoculation or ingestion.
    • Transmission to infants through breastfeeding described in mothers suffering from mastitis.
  • Culturing methods in laboratories:
    • Ashdown’s media favored for non-sterile specimens such as respiratory.
    • B. cepacia-selective media an alternative

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Last updated: September 6, 2019