A review of melioidosis cases imported into Europe

  • Sarah Le TohicEmail author
  • Marc Montana
  • Lionel Koch
  • Christophe Curti
  • Patrice Vanelle


Melioidosis is a tropical bacterial infection, rarely encountered, and poorly known by clinicians. In non-endemic areas, a misdiagnosis can lead to a fatal outcome. This study aims to identify the main characteristics of imported and diagnosed melioidosis cases in Europe to increase clinician’s awareness of this diagnosis. A literature review of imported and diagnosed human melioidosis cases in Europe was performed. PubMed and Web of Science search engines were used for retrieving articles from 2000 to November 2018. Seventy-seven cases of imported melioidosis into Europe described in the literature were identified. More than half of the cases were acquired in Thailand (53%) by men (73%). Patients were usually exposed to Burkholderia pseudomallei during a holiday stay (58%) of less than 1 month (23%) and were hospitalized during the month following their return to Europe (58%). Among travelers, melioidosis is less often associated with risk factor (16%), diabetes being the most frequently comorbidity related (19%). The clinical presentation was multifaceted, pneumonia being the most common symptom (52%), followed by cardiovascular form (45%) and skin and soft tissues damages (35%). The diagnosis was obtained by culture (92%), often supplemented by morphological, biochemical, and molecular identification (23%). Misdiagnoses were common (21%). Over half of the patients received a complete and adapted treatment (56%). Mortality is lower for returning traveler (6%). Imported melioidosis cases into Europe have their own characteristics. This possibility should be considered in patients with pneumonia, fever, and/or abscess returning from endemic areas even years after.


Melioidosis Pneumonia Travel medicine Case reports 



We thank Dr. Franck Touret for his careful reading of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10096_2019_3548_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (161 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 160 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hôpital d’Instruction des Armées LaveranMarseilleFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Pharmaco-Chimie RadicalaireAix Marseille Univ, CNRS, ICR, Marseille, FranceMarseilleFrance
  3. 3.Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Marseille (AP-HM), Oncopharma, Hôpital NordMarseilleFrance
  4. 4.Institut de Recherche Biomédicale des Armées (IRBA)Brétigny-sur-OrgeFrance
  5. 5.Service central de la qualité et de l’information pharmaceutiques (SCQIP)Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Marseille (AP-HM)MarseilleFrance

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