08/10/2021: Lab Alert: Clinical Laboratory Burkholderia pseudomallei Notification

CDC's Laboratory Outreach Communication System (LOCS)

Audience: Clinical Laboratory Professionals

Level: Laboratory Alert

This information is being provided at the request of the CDC subject-matter experts for Burkholderia pseudomallei.

The Georgia Department of Public Health, with assistance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is investigating a fatal case of Burkholderia pseudomallei infection (i.e., melioidosis) identified in late July 2021. Based on genomic analysis, this case in Georgia closely matches the three cases previously identified in Kansas, Minnesota, and Texas in 2021, indicating that all four cases most likely share a common source of exposure. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Texas Department of State Health Services continue to investigate the three previous cases with assistance from CDC. This Lab Alert serves as an update to the previous Lab Alert issued on July 1, 2021.

What Laboratories Should Know:

  • Culture of B. pseudomallei from any clinical specimen is considered diagnostic for melioidosis. Ideal specimens for culture include blood, urine, throat swab, and, when relevant, respiratory specimens, abscesses, or wound swabs.
  • Because cultures may grow B. pseudomallei, it’s important for laboratory personnel to observe appropriate laboratory safety precautions.
  • Laboratory testing involving automated identification algorithms (e.g., MALDI-TOF, 16s, VITEK-2) may misidentify B. pseudomallei as another bacterium. The isolate from the Texas case was initially misidentified as B. thailandensis by MALDI-TOF.
  • If B. pseudomallei is identified or an organism is suspicious for B. pseudomallei, contact your state or local public health laboratory or Laboratory Response Network (LRN) Reference Laboratory immediately.

CDC has also issued a health alert notification (HAN) to inform physicians about this situation and provide recommendations.

Any questions or comments regarding this message should be directed to your state or local public health laboratory.

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The Laboratory Outreach Communication System

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Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services (CSELS)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)