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The bacteria that cause glanders are transmitted to humans through contact with tissues or body fluids of infected animals. The bacteria enter the body through cuts or abrasions in the skin and through mucosal surfaces such as the eyes and nose.

It may also be inhaled via infected aerosols or dust contaminated by infected animals. Sporadic cases have been documented in veterinarians, horse caretakers, and laboratorians.

Cases of human-to-human transmission have not been reported in the U.S.