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1.  Two fatal cases of melioidosis on the Thai-Myanmar border 
F1000Research  2014;3:4.
Melioidosis is endemic in areas of Southeast Asia, however, there are no published reports from the Thai-Myanmar border. We report the first two documented cases of fatal melioidosis in this region. This is of great public health importance and highlights the need to both increase clinical awareness of melioidosis on the Thai-Myanmar border, and to assess the true burden of disease in the area through improved case detection and Burkholderia pseudomallei prevalence studies.
PMCID: PMC3976102  PMID: 24715973
2.  The BpeEF-OprC Efflux Pump Is Responsible for Widespread Trimethoprim Resistance in Clinical and Environmental Burkholderia pseudomallei Isolates 
Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (co-trimoxazole) is the primary drug used for oral eradication therapy of Burkholderia pseudomallei infections (melioidosis). Here, we demonstrate that trimethoprim resistance is widespread in clinical and environmental isolates from northeast Thailand and northern Australia. This resistance was shown to be due to BpeEF-OprC efflux pump expression. No dihydrofolate reductase target mutations were involved, although frequent insertion of ISBma2 was noted within the putative folA transcriptional terminator. All isolates tested remained susceptible to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, suggesting that resistance to trimethoprim alone in these strains probably does not affect the efficacy of co-trimoxazole therapy.
PMCID: PMC3754293  PMID: 23817379
3.  Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole versus trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole plus doxycycline as oral eradicative treatment for melioidosis (MERTH): a multicentre, double-blind, non-inferiority, randomised controlled trial 
Lancet  2014;383(9919):807-814.
Melioidosis, an infectious disease caused by the Gram-negative bacillus Burkholderia pseudomallei, is difficult to cure. Antimicrobial treatment comprises intravenous drugs for at least 10 days, followed by oral drugs for at least 12 weeks. The standard oral regimen based on trial evidence is trimethoprim-sulfamethoxaxole (TMP-SMX) plus doxycycline. This regimen is used in Thailand but is associated with side-effects and poor adherence by patients, and TMP-SMX alone is recommended in Australia. We compared the efficacy and side-effects of TMP-SMX with TMP-SMX plus doxycycline for the oral phase of melioidosis treatment.
For this multi-centre, double-blind, non-inferiority, randomised placebo-controlled trial, we enrolled patients (aged ≥15 years) from five centres in northeast Thailand with culture-confirmed melioidosis who had received a course of parenteral antimicrobial drugs. Using a computer-generated sequence, we randomly assigned patients to receive TMP-SMX plus placebo or TMP-SMX plus doxycycline for 20 weeks (1:1; block size of ten, stratified by study site). We followed patients up every 4 months for 1 year and annually thereafter to the end of the study. The primary endpoint was culture-confirmed recurrent melioidosis, and the non-inferiority margin was a hazard ratio (HR) of 1·7. This study is registered with, number ISRCTN86140460.
We enrolled and randomly assigned 626 patients: 311 to TMP-SMX plus placebo and 315 to TMP-SMX plus doxycycline. 16 patients (5%) in the TMP-SMX plus placebo group and 21 patients (7%) in the TMP-SMX plus doxycycline group developed culture-confirmed recurrent melioidosis (HR 0·81; 95% CI 0·42–1·55). The criterion for non-inferiority was met (p=0.01). Adverse drug reactions were less common in the TMP-SMX plus placebo group than in the TMP-SMX plus doxycycline group (122 [39%] vs 167 [53%]).
Our findings suggest that TMP-SMX is not inferior to TMP-SMX plus doxycycline for the oral phase of melioidosis treatment, and is preferable on the basis of safety and tolerance by patients.
Thailand Research Fund, the Melioidosis Research Center, the Center of Excellence in Specific Health Problems in Greater Mekong Sub-region cluster, and the Wellcome Trust.
PMCID: PMC3939931  PMID: 24284287
5.  Two fatal cases of melioidosis on the Thai-Myanmar border 
F1000Research  2014;3:4.
Melioidosis is endemic in areas of Southeast Asia, however, there are no published reports from the Thai-Myanmar border.  We report the first two cases of fatal melioidosis in this region. This is of great public health importance and highlights the need to increase clinical awareness of melioidosis on the Thai-Myanmar border and to assess the true burden of disease in the area through improved case detection and Burkholderia pseudomallei prevalence studies.
PMCID: PMC3976102  PMID: 24715973
6.  Common TLR1 Genetic Variation Is Not Associated with Death from Melioidosis, a Common Cause of Sepsis in Rural Thailand 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e83285.
Melioidosis, infection caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei, is a common cause of sepsis in northeast Thailand. In white North Americans, common functional genetic variation in TLR1 is associated with organ failure and death from sepsis. We hypothesized that TLR1 variants would be associated with outcomes in Thais with melioidosis. We collated the global frequencies of three TLR1 variants that are common in white North American populations: rs5743551 (-7202A/G), rs4833095 (742A/G), and rs5743618 (1804G/T). We noted a reversal of the minor allele from white North American subjects to Asian populations that was particularly pronounced for rs5743618. In the Utah residents of European ancestry, the frequency of the rs5743618 T allele was 17% whereas in Vietnamese subjects the frequency was >99%. We conducted a genetic association study in 427 patients with melioidosis to determine the association of TLR1 variation with organ failure or death. We genotyped rs5743551 and rs4833095. The variants were in high linkage disequilibrium but neither variant was associated with organ failure or in-hospital death. In 300 healthy Thai individuals we further tested the association of TLR1 variation with ex vivo blood responses to Pam3CSK4, a TLR1 agonist. Neither variant was robustly associated with blood cytokine responses induced by Pam3CSK4. We identified additional common variation in TLR1 by searching public databases and the published literature and screened three additional TLR1 variants for associations with Pam3CSK4-induced responses but found none. We conclude that the genetic architecture of TLR1 variation differs substantially in southeast Asians compared to other populations and common variation in TLR1 in Thais is not associated with outcome from melioidosis or with altered blood responses to Pam3CSK4. Our findings highlight the need for additional studies of TLR1 and other innate immune genetic modulators of the inflammatory host response and determinants of sepsis in southeast Asian populations.
PMCID: PMC3879377  PMID: 24392083
7.  Rapid Detection of Burkholderia pseudomallei in Blood Cultures Using a Monoclonal Antibody-Based Immunofluorescent Assay 
Melioidosis is a severe bacterial infection caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei. Rapid antimicrobial therapy is necessary to improve patient outcome, which is aided by direct detection of B. pseudomallei in clinical samples. A drawback for all antigen assays is that the number of B. pseudomallei in blood usually falls below the achievable level of detection. We performed a prospective cohort study of 461 patients with 541 blood cultures to evaluate the utility of a pre-incubation step prior to detection of B. pseudomallei using a monoclonal antibody-based immunofluorescent assay (Mab-IFA). The Mab-IFA was positive in 74 of 76 patients with melioidosis (sensitivity = 97.4%), and negative in 385 patients who did not have blood cultures containing B. pseudomallei (specificity = 100%). The Mab-IFA could be a valuable supplementary tool for rapid detection. We recommend the use of the Mab-IFA to test blood cultures that flag positive in regions where melioidosis is endemic.
PMCID: PMC3820345  PMID: 24019434
8.  Prevalence of Melioidosis in Patients with Suspected Pulmonary Tuberculosis and Sputum Smear Negative for Acid-Fast Bacilli in Northeast Thailand 
The clinical and radiological features of pulmonary melioidosis can mimic tuberculosis. We prospectively evaluated 118 patients with suspected pulmonary tuberculosis who were acid-fast bacilli (AFB) smear negative at Udon Thani Hospital, northeast Thailand. Culture of residual sputum from AFB testing was positive for Burkholderia pseudomallei in three patients (2.5%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.5–7.3%). We propose that in melioidosis-endemic areas, residual sputum from AFB testing should be routinely cultured for B. pseudomallei.
PMCID: PMC3820347  PMID: 24062474
9.  Leptospira Species in Floodwater during the 2011 Floods in the Bangkok Metropolitan Region, Thailand 
Floodwater samples (N = 110) collected during the 2011 Bangkok floods were tested for Leptospira using culture and polymerase chain reaction (PCR); 65 samples were PCR-positive for putatively non-pathogenic Leptospira species, 1 sample contained a putatively pathogenic Leptospira, and 6 samples contained Leptospira clustering phylogenetically with the intermediate group. The low prevalence of pathogenic and intermediate Leptospira in floodwater was consistent with the low number of human leptospirosis cases reported to the Bureau of Epidemiology in Thailand. This study provides baseline information on environmental Leptospira in Bangkok together with a set of laboratory tests that could be readily deployed in the event of future flooding.
PMCID: PMC3795115  PMID: 24002484
10.  Molecular Confirmation of Co-Infection by Pathogenic Leptospira spp. and Orientia tsutsugamushi in Patients with Acute Febrile Illness in Thailand 
Leptospirosis and scrub typhus are major causes of acute febrile illness in rural Asia, where co-infection is reported to occur based on serologic evidence. We re-examined whether co-infection occurs by using a molecular approach. A duplex real-time polymerase chain reaction was developed that targeted a specific 16S ribosomal RNA gene of pathogenic Leptospira spp. and Orientia tsutsugamushi. Of 82 patients with an acute febrile illness who had dual infection on the basis of serologic tests, 5 (6%) had polymerase chain reaction results positive for both pathogens. We conclude that dual infection occurs, but that serologic tests may overestimate the frequency of co-infections.
PMCID: PMC3795116  PMID: 24002486
11.  Monoclonal Antibody-Based Immunofluorescence Microscopy for the Rapid Identification of Burkholderia pseudomallei in Clinical Specimens 
The diagnosis of melioidosis depends on the culture of Burkholderia pseudomallei, which takes at least 48 hours. We used a polyclonal-FITC-based immunofluorescence microscopic assay (Pab-IFA) on clinical samples to provide a rapid presumptive diagnosis. This has limitations including photobleaching and batch-to-batch variability. This study evaluated an IFA based on a monoclonal antibody specific to B. pseudomallei (Mab-IFA) and Alexa Fluor 488. A diagnostic evaluation was performed on a prospective cohort of 951 consecutive patients with suspected melioidosis. A total of 1,407 samples were tested. Test accuracy was defined against culture as the gold standard, and was also compared against Pab-IFA. A total of 88 samples from 64 patients were culture positive for B. pseudomallei. The diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of the Mab-IFA was comparable to the Pab-IFA (48.4% versus 45.3% for sensitivity, and 99.8% versus 98.8% for specificity). We have incorporated the Mab-IFA into our routine practice.
PMCID: PMC3748476  PMID: 23716405
12.  A Prospective Study of the Causes of Febrile Illness Requiring Hospitalization in Children in Cambodia 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60634.
Febrile illnesses are pre-eminent contributors to morbidity and mortality among children in South-East Asia but the causes are poorly understood. We determined the causes of fever in children hospitalised in Siem Reap province, Cambodia.
Methods and Findings
A one-year prospective study of febrile children admitted to Angkor Hospital for Children, Siem Reap. Demographic, clinical, laboratory and outcome data were comprehensively analysed. Between October 12th 2009 and October 12th 2010 there were 1225 episodes of febrile illness in 1180 children. Median (IQR) age was 2.0 (0.8–6.4) years, with 850 (69%) episodes in children <5 years. Common microbiological diagnoses were dengue virus (16.2%), scrub typhus (7.8%), and Japanese encephalitis virus (5.8%). 76 (6.3%) episodes had culture-proven bloodstream infection, including Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (22 isolates, 1.8%), Streptococcus pneumoniae (13, 1.1%), Escherichia coli (8, 0.7%), Haemophilus influenzae (7, 0.6%), Staphylococcus aureus (6, 0.5%) and Burkholderia pseudomallei (6, 0.5%). There were 69 deaths (5.6%), including those due to clinically diagnosed pneumonia (19), dengue virus (5), and melioidosis (4). 10 of 69 (14.5%) deaths were associated with culture-proven bloodstream infection in logistic regression analyses (odds ratio for mortality 3.4, 95% CI 1.6–6.9). Antimicrobial resistance was prevalent, particularly in S. enterica Typhi, (where 90% of isolates were resistant to ciprofloxacin, and 86% were multi-drug resistant). Comorbid undernutrition was present in 44% of episodes and a major risk factor for acute mortality (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.1–4.2), as were HIV infection and cardiac disease.
We identified a microbiological cause of fever in almost 50% of episodes in this large study of community-acquired febrile illness in hospitalized children in Cambodia. The range of pathogens, antimicrobial susceptibility, and co-morbidities associated with mortality described will be of use in the development of rational guidelines for infectious disease treatment and control in Cambodia and South-East Asia.
PMCID: PMC3621876  PMID: 23593267
13.  Systematic Review and Consensus Guidelines for Environmental Sampling of Burkholderia pseudomallei 
Burkholderia pseudomallei, a Tier 1 Select Agent and the cause of melioidosis, is a Gram-negative bacillus present in the environment in many tropical countries. Defining the global pattern of B. pseudomallei distribution underpins efforts to prevent infection, and is dependent upon robust environmental sampling methodology. Our objective was to review the literature on the detection of environmental B. pseudomallei, update the risk map for melioidosis, and propose international consensus guidelines for soil sampling.
Methods/Principal Findings
An international working party (Detection of Environmental Burkholderia pseudomallei Working Party (DEBWorP)) was formed during the VIth World Melioidosis Congress in 2010. PubMed (January 1912 to December 2011) was searched using the following MeSH terms: pseudomallei or melioidosis. Bibliographies were hand-searched for secondary references. The reported geographical distribution of B. pseudomallei in the environment was mapped and categorized as definite, probable, or possible. The methodology used for detecting environmental B. pseudomallei was extracted and collated. We found that global coverage was patchy, with a lack of studies in many areas where melioidosis is suspected to occur. The sampling strategies and bacterial identification methods used were highly variable, and not all were robust. We developed consensus guidelines with the goals of reducing the probability of false-negative results, and the provision of affordable and ‘low-tech’ methodology that is applicable in both developed and developing countries.
The proposed consensus guidelines provide the basis for the development of an accurate and comprehensive global map of environmental B. pseudomallei.
Author Summary
Melioidosis is a serious infectious disease caused by the Tier 1 selected agent and Gram-negative environmental saprophyte, Burkholderia pseudomallei. The organism is commonly found in soil and water in melioidosis endemic areas. Infection in humans occurs following bacterial inoculation, inhalation or ingestion. There is a striking lack of accurate information on the global risk of melioidosis, something that could be determined from the global distribution of environmental B. pseudomallei. Soil sampling to detect the presence of B. pseudomallei has been ad hoc, poorly standardized, and the available information poorly collated. Negative studies are almost never reported, and there is no published review on this topic. We responded to this problem during the VIth World Melioidosis Congress held in Townsville, Australia in December 2010 by forming the ‘Detection of Environmental Burkholderia pseudomallei Working Party (DEBWorP)’. We have since worked together to undertake a systematic review, map the available information, and reach a consensus on low cost methods for the detection of environmental B. pseudomallei. Our goal is to promote the use of these consensus methods and encourage people worldwide to participate in an effort to produce a comprehensive global map of environmental B. pseudomallei.
PMCID: PMC3605150  PMID: 23556010
14.  Impaired TLR5 Functionality Is Associated with Survival in Melioidosis 
Melioidosis is infection caused by the flagellated saprophyte Burkholderia pseudomallei. TLR5 is a pathogen recognition receptor activated by bacterial flagellin. We studied a genetic variant that encodes a defective TLR5 protein, TLR51174C>T, to elucidate the role of TLR5 in melioidosis. We measured NF-κB activation induced by B. pseudomallei in human embryonic kidney–293 cells transfected with TLR5 and found that B. pseudomallei induced TLR51174C- but not TLR51174T-dependent activation of NF-κB. We tested the association of TLR51174C>T with outcome in 600 Thai subjects with melioidosis. In a dominant model, TLR51174C>T was associated with protection against in-hospital death (adjusted odds ratio: 0.20; 95% confidence interval: 0.08–0.50; p = 0.001) and organ failure (adjusted odds ratio: 0.37; 95% confidence interval: 0.19–0.71; p = 0.003). We analyzed blood cytokine production induced by flagellin or heat-killed B. pseudomallei by TLR51174C>T genotype in healthy subjects. Flagellin induced lower monocyte-normalized levels of IL-6, IL-8, TNF-α, IL-10, MCP-1, IL-1ra, G-CSF, and IL-1β in carriers of TLR51174T compared with carriers of TLR51174C. B. pseudomallei induced lower monocyte-normalized levels of IL-10 in carriers of TLR51174T. We conclude that the hypofunctional genetic variant TLR51174C>T is associated with reduced organ failure and improved survival in melioidosis. This conclusion suggests a deleterious immunoregulatory effect of TLR5 that may be mediated by IL-10 and identifies this receptor as a potential therapeutic target in melioidosis.
PMCID: PMC3607401  PMID: 23447684
15.  Activities of Daily Living Associated with Acquisition of Melioidosis in Northeast Thailand: A Matched Case-Control Study 
Melioidosis is a serious infectious disease caused by the Category B select agent and environmental saprophyte, Burkholderia pseudomallei. Most cases of naturally acquired infection are assumed to result from skin inoculation after exposure to soil or water. The aim of this study was to provide evidence for inoculation, inhalation and ingestion as routes of infection, and develop preventive guidelines based on this evidence.
Methods/Principal Findings
A prospective hospital-based 1∶2 matched case-control study was conducted in Northeast Thailand. Cases were patients with culture-confirmed melioidosis, and controls were patients admitted with non-infectious conditions during the same period, matched for gender, age, and diabetes mellitus. Activities of daily living were recorded for the 30-day period before onset of symptoms, and home visits were performed to obtain drinking water and culture this for B. pseudomallei. Multivariable conditional logistic regression analysis based on 286 cases and 512 controls showed that activities associated with a risk of melioidosis included working in a rice field (conditional odds ratio [cOR] = 2.1; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.4–3.3), other activities associated with exposure to soil or water (cOR = 1.4; 95%CI 0.8–2.6), an open wound (cOR = 2.0; 95%CI 1.2–3.3), eating food contaminated with soil or dust (cOR = 1.5; 95%CI 1.0–2.2), drinking untreated water (cOR = 1.7; 95%CI 1.1–2.6), outdoor exposure to rain (cOR = 2.1; 95%CI 1.4–3.2), water inhalation (cOR = 2.4; 95%CI 1.5–3.9), current smoking (cOR = 1.5; 95%CI 1.0–2.3) and steroid intake (cOR = 3.1; 95%CI 1.4–6.9). B. pseudomallei was detected in water source(s) consumed by 7% of cases and 3% of controls (cOR = 2.2; 95%CI 0.8–5.8).
We used these findings to develop the first evidence-based guidelines for the prevention of melioidosis. These are suitable for people in melioidosis-endemic areas, travelers and military personnel. Public health campaigns based on our recommendations are under development in Thailand.
Author Summary
Melioidosis is a serious infectious disease caused by the environmental saprophyte, Burkholderia pseudomallei. The infection is potentially preventable, but developing prevention guidelines is hampered by a lack of evidence on which to base them. The purpose of this study was to provide evidence for inoculation, inhalation and ingestion as routes of infection. To achieve this, we undertook a matched case-control study and performed home visits to obtain drinking water and culture this for B. pseudomallei. We found that activities associated with increased risk of developing melioidosis included working in a rice field, other activities associated with exposure to soil or water, an open wound, eating food contaminated with soil or dust, drinking untreated water, outdoor exposure to rain, water inhalation, current smoking and steroid intake. Presence of B. pseudomallei in drinking water source(s) doubled the odds of acquiring melioidosis. This is the first study to show that ingestion is an important route of human B. pseudomallei infection, and that exposure to rain is an independent risk factor for melioidosis. We used this finding to develop the first evidence-based guidelines for the prevention of melioidosis. These are suitable for people in melioidosis-endemic areas, travelers and military personnel.
PMCID: PMC3578767  PMID: 23437412
16.  A Single Multilocus Sequence Typing (MLST) Scheme for Seven Pathogenic Leptospira Species 
The available Leptospira multilocus sequence typing (MLST) scheme supported by a MLST website is limited to L. interrogans and L. kirschneri. Our aim was to broaden the utility of this scheme to incorporate a total of seven pathogenic species.
Methodology and Findings
We modified the existing scheme by replacing one of the seven MLST loci (fadD was changed to caiB), as the former gene did not appear to be present in some pathogenic species. Comparison of the original and modified schemes using data for L. interrogans and L. kirschneri demonstrated that the discriminatory power of the two schemes was not significantly different. The modified scheme was used to further characterize 325 isolates (L. alexanderi [n = 5], L. borgpetersenii [n = 34], L. interrogans [n = 222], L. kirschneri [n = 29], L. noguchii [n = 9], L. santarosai [n = 10], and L. weilii [n = 16]). Phylogenetic analysis using concatenated sequences of the 7 loci demonstrated that each species corresponded to a discrete clade, and that no strains were misclassified at the species level. Comparison between genotype and serovar was possible for 254 isolates. Of the 31 sequence types (STs) represented by at least two isolates, 18 STs included isolates assigned to two or three different serovars. Conversely, 14 serovars were identified that contained between 2 to 10 different STs. New observations were made on the global phylogeography of Leptospira spp., and the utility of MLST in making associations between human disease and specific maintenance hosts was demonstrated.
The new MLST scheme, supported by an updated MLST website, allows the characterization and species assignment of isolates of the seven major pathogenic species associated with leptospirosis.
Author Summary
Leptospirosis is a common zoonotic disease worldwide. Genotyping of the causative organisms provides important insights into disease transmission and informs preventive strategies and vaccine development. Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) is the most widespread genotyping methodology for bacterial pathogens, but the Leptospira scheme supported by a public MLST database is currently only applicable to L. interrogans and L. kirschneri. The purpose of this study was to extend the scheme to a total of seven pathogenic Leptospira species. This was achieved through the development of a modified scheme in which one of the seven MLST loci was replaced, together with newly designed primers for the remaining 6 loci. Comparison of the original and modified scheme demonstrated that they were very similar, hence sequence type (ST) assignments were largely carried over to the modified scheme. Phylogenetic trees reconstructed from concatenated sequences of the seven loci of the modified scheme demonstrated perfect classification of isolates into seven pathogenic species, which resided in clearly distinct phylogenetic clusters. Congruence was low between STs and serovars. The MLST scheme was used to gain new insights into the population genetic structure of Leptospira species associated with clinical disease and maintenance hosts in Asia.
PMCID: PMC3554523  PMID: 23359622
17.  Rapid Isolation and Susceptibility Testing of Leptospira spp. Using a New Solid Medium, LVW Agar 
Pathogenic Leptospira spp., the causative agents of leptospirosis, are slow-growing Gram-negative spirochetes. Isolation of Leptospira from clinical samples and testing of antimicrobial susceptibility are difficult and time-consuming. Here, we describe the development of a new solid medium that facilitates more-rapid growth of Leptospira spp. and the use of this medium to evaluate the Etest's performance in determining antimicrobial MICs to drugs in common use for leptospirosis. The medium was developed by evaluating the effects of numerous factors on the growth rate of Leptospira interrogans strain NR-20157. These included the type of base agar, the concentration of rabbit serum (RS), and the concentration and duration of CO2 incubation during the initial period of culture. The highest growth rate of NR-20157 was achieved using a Noble agar base supplemented with 10% RS (named LVW agar), with an initial incubation at 30°C in 5% CO2 for 2 days prior to continuous culture in air at 30°C. These conditions were used to develop the Etest for three species, L. interrogans (NR-20161), L. kirschnerii (NR-20327), and L. borgpetersenii (NR-20151). The MICs were read on day 7 for all samples. The Etest was then performed on 109 isolates of pathogenic Leptospira spp. The MIC90 values for penicillin G, doxycycline, cefotaxime, ceftriaxone, and chloramphenicol were 0.64 units/ml and 0.19, 0.047, 0.5, and 2 μg/ml, respectively. The use of LVW agar, which enables rapid growth, isolation of single colonies, and simple antimicrobial susceptibility testing for Leptospira spp., provides an opportunity for new areas of fundamental and applied research.
PMCID: PMC3535913  PMID: 23114772
18.  Workshop on Treatment of and Postexposure Prophylaxis for Burkholderia pseudomallei and B. mallei Infection, 2010 
The US Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise convened subject matter experts at the 2010 HHS Burkholderia Workshop to develop consensus recommendations for postexposure prophylaxis against and treatment for Burkholderia pseudomallei and B. mallei infections, which cause melioidosis and glanders, respectively. Drugs recommended by consensus of the participants are ceftazidime or meropenem for initial intensive therapy, and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole or amoxicillin/clavulanic acid for eradication therapy. For postexposure prophylaxis, recommended drugs are trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole or co-amoxiclav. To improve the timely diagnosis of melioidosis and glanders, further development and wide distribution of rapid diagnostic assays were also recommended. Standardized animal models and B. pseudomallei strains are needed for further development of therapeutic options. Training for laboratory technicians and physicians would facilitate better diagnosis and treatment options.
PMCID: PMC3557896  PMID: 23171644
Burkholderia pseudomallei; melioidosis; Burkholderia mallei; glanders; drug therapy; postexposure prophylaxis; ceftazidime; carbapenems; trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole; combination; amoxicillin/potassium clavulanate; clavulanic acid bacteria; antibiotic; antibacterial drugs; antimicrobial drugs; bacteria; Suggested citation for this article: Lipsitz R; Garges S; Aurigemma R; Baccam P; Blaney DD; Cheng AC; et al. Workshop on treatment of and postexposure prophylaxis for Burkholderia pseudomallei and B. mallei infection; 2010. Emerg Infect Dis [Internet]. 2012 Dec [date cited].
19.  Toll-Like Receptor 4 Region Genetic Variants are Associated with Susceptibility to Melioidosis 
Genes and immunity  2011;13(1):38-46.
Melioidosis is a tropical infection caused by the Gram-negative soil saprophyte Burkholderia pseudomallei. Despite broad exposure of northeast Thais, disease develops in only a small proportion of individuals. Although diabetes is a risk factor, the mechanisms of host susceptibility to melioidosis are still poorly understood. We postulated that Toll-like receptors (TLRs) regulate host susceptibility to disease, and that genetic variation in TLRs is associated with melioidosis. We analyzed the frequency of eight previously described TLR pathway polymorphisms in 490 cases compared to 950 non-hospitalized controls or 458 hospitalized controls. Based on these results, we then analyzed the frequency of additional TLR4 or TLR6-1-10 region polymorphisms in cases and controls. We found that the TLR41196C>T variant was associated with protection from melioidosis when compared to non-hospitalized controls. The TLR1742A>G and TLR1−7202A>G variants were associated with melioidosis when compared to hospitalized controls. In further analyses, we found that two additional TLR4 region polymorphisms were associated with disease. In diabetics, three other TLR6-1-10 region polymorphisms were associated with disease when compared to hospitalized controls. We conclude that TLR genetic variants may modulate host susceptibility to melioidosis. Confirmation of these findings and further investigation of the mechanisms is required.
PMCID: PMC3483087  PMID: 21776015
melioidosis; Burkholderia pseudomallei; infection; Toll-like receptor; innate immunity; genetic variation
20.  Development and Validation of Burkholderia pseudomallei-Specific Real-Time PCR Assays for Clinical, Environmental or Forensic Detection Applications 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37723.
The bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei causes melioidosis, a rare but serious illness that can be fatal if untreated or misdiagnosed. Species-specific PCR assays provide a technically simple method for differentiating B. pseudomallei from near-neighbor species. However, substantial genetic diversity and high levels of recombination within this species reduce the likelihood that molecular signatures will differentiate all B. pseudomallei from other Burkholderiaceae. Currently available molecular assays for B. pseudomallei detection lack rigorous validation across large in silico datasets and isolate collections to test for specificity, and none have been subjected to stringent quality control criteria (accuracy, precision, selectivity, limit of quantitation (LoQ), limit of detection (LoD), linearity, ruggedness and robustness) to determine their suitability for environmental, clinical or forensic investigations. In this study, we developed two novel B. pseudomallei specific assays, 122018 and 266152, using a dual-probe approach to differentiate B. pseudomallei from B. thailandensis, B. oklahomensis and B. thailandensis-like species; other species failed to amplify. Species specificity was validated across a large DNA panel (>2,300 samples) comprising Burkholderia spp. and non-Burkholderia bacterial and fungal species of clinical and environmental relevance. Comparison of assay specificity to two previously published B. pseudomallei-specific assays, BurkDiff and TTS1, demonstrated comparable performance of all assays, providing between 99.7 and 100% specificity against our isolate panel. Last, we subjected 122018 and 266152 to rigorous quality control analyses, thus providing quantitative limits of assay performance. Using B. pseudomallei as a model, our study provides a framework for comprehensive quantitative validation of molecular assays and provides additional, highly validated B. pseudomallei assays for the scientific research community.
PMCID: PMC3356290  PMID: 22624061
21.  Evolution of Burkholderia pseudomallei in Recurrent Melioidosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36507.
Burkholderia pseudomallei, the etiologic agent of human melioidosis, is capable of causing severe acute infection with overwhelming septicemia leading to death. A high rate of recurrent disease occurs in adult patients, most often due to recrudescence of the initial infecting strain. Pathogen persistence and evolution during such relapsing infections are not well understood. Bacterial cells present in the primary inoculum and in late infections may differ greatly, as has been observed in chronic disease, or they may be genetically similar. To test these alternative models, we conducted whole-genome comparisons of clonal primary and relapse B. pseudomallei isolates recovered six months to six years apart from four adult Thai patients. We found differences within each of the four pairs, and some, including a 330 Kb deletion, affected substantial portions of the genome. Many of the changes were associated with increased antibiotic resistance. We also found evidence of positive selection for deleterious mutations in a TetR family transcriptional regulator from a set of 107 additional B. pseudomallei strains. As part of the study, we sequenced to base-pair accuracy the genome of B. pseudomallei strain 1026b, the model used for genetic studies of B. pseudomallei pathogenesis and antibiotic resistance. Our findings provide new insights into pathogen evolution during long-term infections and have important implications for the development of intervention strategies to combat recurrent melioidosis.
PMCID: PMC3352902  PMID: 22615773
22.  Burkholderia pseudomallei Detection in Surface Water in Southern Laos Using Moore's Swabs 
The causal agent of melioidosis, Burkholderia pseudomallei, has been cultured from paddy fields in the Lao PDR. We carried out a pilot study to examine the relationship between bacterial soil contamination and that of nearby surface waters in Saravane Province. Soil sampling was conducted at a depth of 30 cm (100 holes in a 45 × 45 m grid) at two sites, East and West Saravane. Moore's swabs were used for water sampling of paddy fields, lakes, rivers, boreholes, and storage tanks within 2 km of the two soil sampling sites. B. pseudomallei from soil and water were cultured on Ashdown's agar. Thirty-six percent and 6% of water samples collected around East and West Saravane, respectively, were culture positive for B. pseudomallei. Low pH and high turbidity were independently associated with culture of B. pseudomallei. Most positive water samples were from the Sedone River, downstream of the East Saravane site. Moore's swabs are simple and inexpensive tools for detecting B. pseudomallei in surface waters.
PMCID: PMC3335696  PMID: 22556090
23.  Fool's Gold: Why Imperfect Reference Tests Are Undermining the Evaluation of Novel Diagnostics: A Reevaluation of 5 Diagnostic Tests for Leptospirosis 
We hypothesized that the gold standard for diagnosing leptospirosis is imperfect. We used Bayesian latent class models and random-effects meta-analysis to test this hypothesis and to determine the true accuracy of a range of alternative tests for leptospirosis diagnosis.
Background. We observed that some patients with clinical leptospirosis supported by positive results of rapid tests were negative for leptospirosis on the basis of our diagnostic gold standard, which involves isolation of Leptospira species from blood culture and/or a positive result of a microscopic agglutination test (MAT). We hypothesized that our reference standard was imperfect and used statistical modeling to investigate this hypothesis.
Methods. Data for 1652 patients with suspected leptospirosis recruited during three observational studies and one randomized control trial that described the application of culture, MAT, immunofluorescence assay (IFA), lateral flow (LF) and/or PCR targeting the 16S rRNA gene were reevaluated using Bayesian latent class models and random-effects meta-analysis.
Results. The estimated sensitivities of culture alone, MAT alone, and culture plus MAT (for which the result was considered positive if one or both tests had a positive result) were 10.5% (95% credible interval [CrI], 2.7%–27.5%), 49.8% (95% CrI, 37.6%–60.8%), and 55.5% (95% CrI, 42.9%–67.7%), respectively. These low sensitivities were present across all 4 studies. The estimated specificity of MAT alone (and of culture plus MAT) was 98.8% (95% CrI, 92.8%–100.0%). The estimated sensitivities and specificities of PCR (52.7% [95% CrI, 45.2%–60.6%] and 97.2% [95% CrI, 92.0%–99.8%], respectively), lateral flow test (85.6% [95% CrI, 77.5%–93.2%] and 96.2% [95% CrI, 87.7%–99.8%], respectively), and immunofluorescence assay (45.5% [95% CrI, 33.3%–60.9%] and 96.8% [95% CrI, 92.8%–99.8%], respectively) were considerably different from estimates in which culture plus MAT was considered a perfect gold standard test.
Conclusions. Our findings show that culture plus MAT is an imperfect gold standard against which to compare alterative tests for the diagnosis of leptospirosis. Rapid point-of-care tests for this infection would bring an important improvement in patient care, but their future evaluation will require careful consideration of the reference test(s) used and the inclusion of appropriate statistical models.
PMCID: PMC3393707  PMID: 22523263
24.  Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay for the Diagnosis of Melioidosis: Better Than We Thought 
We used Bayesian latent-class models to generate receiver operating characteristic curves and to revise the cutoff values for an enzyme-linked immosorbent assay that has been developed previously for melioidosis. The new cutoff was unbiased towards misclassification caused by an imperfect gold standard and resulted in an increase in both sensitivity (from 66.4% to 80.2%) and specificity (82.1% and 95.0%).
PMCID: PMC3070030  PMID: 21460318
25.  Prospective Evaluation of Commercial Antibody-Based Rapid Tests in Combination with a Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification PCR Assay for Detection of Orientia tsutsugamushi during the Acute Phase of Scrub Typhus Infection 
Samples from 160 prospectively recruited febrile patients with typhus-like illness in an area of Thailand (Chiang Rai, northern Thailand) where scrub typhus is endemic were used to evaluate the diagnostic capabilities of four rapid immunochromatographic tests (ICTs) for the detection of Orientia tsutsugamushi IgM and total antibodies during acute scrub typhus infection. Of the 160 cases, 54 (34%) had been confirmed to have scrub typhus using the reference scrub typhus infection criteria (STIC), i.e., positive cell culture isolation, an admission IgM antibody titer of ≥1:12,800, a 4-fold rising IgM antibody titer, and/or positivity for ≥2 out of 3 PCR gene targets). The ICTs gave the following sensitivities and specificities: the Panbio IgM ICT, 46% (95% confidence interval [CI], 33 to 60) and 95% (95% CI, 89 to 98), respectively; the Standard Diagnostics IgM ICT, 68% (95% CI, 60 to 75) and 73% (95% CI, 68 to 78), respectively; the AccessBio IgM ICT, 56% (95% CI, 48 to 63) and 90% (95% CI, 87 to 94), respectively; and the AccessBio total antibody ABt ICT, 61% (95% CI, 53 to 68) and 68% (95% CI, 63 to 73), respectively. An isothermal loop amplification (LAMP) PCR assay for scrub typhus demonstrated a sensitivity of 52% (95% CI, 38 to 66) and a specificity of 94% (95% CI, 88 to 98). This study has revealed the diagnostic limitations of antibody-based assays in an acute care setting. However, the combination of ICTs with LAMP usually increased sensitivity with a minimal reduction in specificity. The best combination, the Panbio IgM ICT and LAMP, resulted in a sensitivity of 67% (95% CI, 53 to 79) and a specificity of 91% (95% CI, 83 to 95). The combination of antibody-based assays with DNA- or antigen-based tests shows promise for improved diagnostic sensitivity.
PMCID: PMC3294598  PMID: 22219313

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