Investigation of Melioidosis Using Blood Culture and Indirect Hemagglutination Assay Serology among Patients with Fever, Northern Tanzania

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2020 Dec;103(6):2510-2514. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.20-0160. Epub 2020 Sep 24.


Prediction models indicate that melioidosis may be common in parts of East Africa, but there are few empiric data. We evaluated the prevalence of melioidosis among patients presenting with fever to hospitals in Tanzania. Patients with fever were enrolled at two referral hospitals in Moshi, Tanzania, during 2007-2008, 2012-2014, and 2016-2019. Blood was collected from participants for aerobic culture. Bloodstream isolates were identified by conventional biochemical methods. Non-glucose-fermenting Gram-negative bacilli were further tested using a Burkholderia pseudomallei latex agglutination assay. Also, we performed B. pseudomallei indirect hemagglutination assay (IHA) serology on serum samples from participants enrolled from 2012 to 2014 and considered at high epidemiologic risk of melioidosis on the basis of admission within 30 days of rainfall. We defined confirmed melioidosis as isolation of B. pseudomallei from blood culture, probable melioidosis as a ≥ 4-fold rise in antibody titers between acute and convalescent sera, and seropositivity as a single antibody titer ≥ 40. We enrolled 3,716 participants and isolated non-enteric Gram-negative bacilli in five (2.5%) of 200 with bacteremia. As none of these five isolates was B. pseudomallei, there were no confirmed melioidosis cases. Of 323 participants tested by IHA, 142 (44.0%) were male, and the median (range) age was 27 (0-70) years. We identified two (0.6%) cases of probable melioidosis, and 57 (17.7%) were seropositive. The absence of confirmed melioidosis from 9 years of fever surveillance indicates melioidosis was not a major cause of illness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Culture / methods*
  • Burkholderia pseudomallei
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Fever*
  • Hemagglutination Tests / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Melioidosis / blood*
  • Melioidosis / diagnosis*
  • Melioidosis / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Serologic Tests
  • Tanzania / epidemiology
  • Young Adult