Bordetella holmesii: an under-recognised Bordetella species

Lancet Infect Dis. 2014 Jun;14(6):510-9. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(14)70021-0. Epub 2014 Apr 7.


Bordetella holmesii, first described in 1995, is believed to cause both invasive infections (bacteraemia, meningitis, endocarditis, pericarditis, pneumonia, and arthritis) and pertussis-like symptoms. Infection with B holmesii is frequently misidentified as being with B pertussis, the cause of whooping cough, because routine diagnostic tests for pertussis are not species-specific. In this Review, we summarise knowledge about B holmesii diagnosis and treatment, and assess research needs. Although no fatal cases of B holmesii have been reported, associated invasive infections can cause substantial morbidities, even in previously healthy individuals. Antimicrobial treatment can be problematic because B holmesii's susceptibility to macrolides (used empirically to treat B pertussis) and third-generation cephalosporins (often used to treat invasive infections) is lower than would be expected. B holmesii's adaptation to human beings is continuing, and virulence might increase, causing the need for better diagnostic assays and epidemiological surveillance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteremia / diagnosis
  • Bacteremia / epidemiology
  • Bacteremia / microbiology*
  • Bacteremia / prevention & control
  • Bordetella / genetics
  • Bordetella / isolation & purification*
  • Bordetella / pathogenicity
  • Bordetella Infections / diagnosis
  • Bordetella Infections / epidemiology
  • Bordetella Infections / microbiology*
  • Bordetella Infections / prevention & control
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Genome, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Species Specificity
  • Virulence