Burkholderia cepacia is an important opportunistic pathogen in certain compromised hosts, particularly those with either cystic fibrosis (CF) or chronic granulomatous disease. The "family" of bacteria known as B. cepacia is highly heterogeneous and is composed of at least nine discrete species or genomovars, constituting the B. cepacia complex. Bacteria from the B. cepacia complex are particularly virulent in susceptible hosts, often causing necrotising invasive infection and death. Whereas the microbial determinants of virulence in B. cepacia complex are currently not defined, the bacteria appear to have features facilitating survival within host cells. Burkholderia cepacia is highly resistant to antibiotics and to neutrophil-mediated non-oxidative killing; infection should be treated with combination antimicrobial therapy. Burkholderia cepacia can spread from one CF patient to another. Transmission appears to be facilitated by close personal contact and by certain bacterial factors.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd.