Clinical guideline for diagnosis and management of melioidosis

Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo. 2006 Jan-Feb;48(1):1-4. doi: 10.1590/s0036-46652006000100001. Epub 2006 Mar 9.


Melioidosis is an emerging infection in Brazil and neighbouring South American countries. The wide range of clinical presentations include severe community-acquired pneumonia, septicaemia, central nervous system infection and less severe soft tissue infection. Diagnosis depends heavily on the clinical microbiology laboratory for culture. Burkholderia pseudomallei, the bacterial cause of melioidosis, is easily cultured from blood, sputum and other clinical samples. However, B. pseudomallei can be difficult to identify reliably, and can be confused with closely related bacteria, some of which may be dismissed as insignificant culture contaminants. Serological tests can help to support a diagnosis of melioidosis, but by themselves do not provide a definitive diagnosis. The use of a laboratory discovery pathway can help reduce the risk of missing atypical B. pseudomallei isolates. Recommended antibiotic treatment for severe infection is either intravenous Ceftazidime or Meropenem for several weeks, followed by up to 20 weeks oral treatment with a combination of trimethoprim-sulphamethoxazole and doxycycline. Consistent use of diagnostic microbiology to confirm the diagnosis, and rigorous treatment of severe infection with the correct antibiotics in two stages; acute and eradication, will contribute to a reduction in mortality from melioidosis.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Burkholderia pseudomallei*
  • Ceftazidime / administration & dosage
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Doxycycline / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Melioidosis* / diagnosis
  • Melioidosis* / drug therapy
  • Meropenem
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Thienamycins / administration & dosage
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination / administration & dosage


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Thienamycins
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination
  • Ceftazidime
  • Meropenem
  • Doxycycline