Burkholderia pseudomallei

  • Kathryn J. Pflughoeft
  • Derrick Hau
  • Peter Thorkildson
  • David P. AuCoinEmail author


Melioidosis is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei, a motile, Gram-negative saprophyte commonly found in soil and water in tropical and subtropical areas. Melioidosis is considered one of the most neglected tropical diseases. The bacterium is endemic to South-eastern Asia and northern Australia; however, a more representative assessment may expand the endemic regions to include Southern Asia, Africa, and parts of America. Underreporting is likely due to the initial undifferentiated symptoms and clinical signs associated with the disease and the vast array of patient outcomes, which can range from localized skin abscesses to pneumonia and bacteremia. Differences in clinical outcomes may be attributed to the intrinsic antibiotic resistance of the organism, availability of critical care services, and the underlying health of the patient. Increased disease burden correlates with diabetes, excessive alcohol use, chronic renal failure, and lung disease. Due to the high case fatality rate associated with melioidosis, which can reach 70% in untreated cases, the ease of aerosolization, and prevalence in the soil of endemic regions, the organism has been classified as a Tier 1 Select Agent by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (DHHS). Diagnosis is dependent on a culture-positive patient sample, a difficult standard for a pathogen with a low bioburden. Recent advances in vaccine development and rapid, cost-effective diagnostics, have the potential to improve the burden associated with melioidosis.


Burkholderia pseudomallei Antibiotic resistance Opportunistic Modes of transmission Mechanism of disease Patient outcomes 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathryn J. Pflughoeft
    • 1
  • Derrick Hau
    • 1
  • Peter Thorkildson
    • 1
  • David P. AuCoin
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology and ImmunologyUniversity of Nevada, Reno School of MedicineRenoUSA

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