Melioidosis: evolving concepts in epidemiology, pathogenesis, and treatment.Semin Respir Crit Care Med 2015; 36(1):111-25SR
Infection with Burkholderia pseudomallei can result in asymptomatic seroconversion, a single skin lesion that may or may not heal spontaneously, a pneumonia which can be subacute or chronic and mimic tuberculosis or rapidly progressive resulting in fatal overwhelming sepsis. Latency with subsequent activation of disease is well recognized, but very uncommon. Melioidosis also has a myriad of other clinical presentations and diagnosis is often delayed because of this and because of difficulties with laboratory diagnosis and lack of recognition outside melioidosis-endemic regions. The perception of B. pseudomallei as a top tier biothreat agent has driven large funding for research, yet resources for diagnosis and therapy of melioidosis in many endemic locations remain extremely limited, with mortality as high as 50% in comparison to around 10% in regions where state-of-the-art intensive care therapy for sepsis is available. Fatal melioidosis is extremely unlikely from natural infection in a healthy person, provided the diagnosis is made early, ceftazidime or meropenem is commenced and intensive care therapy is available. While biothreat research is directed toward potential aerosol exposure to B. pseudomallei, the overall proportion of melioidosis cases resulting from inhalation rather than from percutaneous inoculation remains entirely uncertain, although the epidemiology supports a shift to inhalation during severe weather events such as cyclones and typhoons. What makes B. pseudomallei such a dangerous organism for patients with diabetes and other selective risk factors remains unclear, but microbial genome-wide association studies linking clinical aspects of melioidosis cases to nonubiquitous or polymorphic B. pseudomallei genes or genomic islands are beginning to uncover specific virulence signatures. Finally, what also remains uncertain is the global phylogeography of B. pseudomallei and whether melioidosis is spreading beyond historical locations or is just being unmasked in Africa and the Americas by better recognition and increased surveillance.