We analysed the pulmonary evolution (radiological scores and pulmonary function) of 81 cystic fibrosis (CF) patients colonized by Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA), by Burkholderia cepacia (BC) or by both these bacteria, compared to a control group. Pulmonary function was compared in the age bracket 6-13 years. Functional vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume (FEV1) values for PA colonized patients were significantly worse than for the control group but better than for children colonized by both organisms. In this last group, the evolution of radiological scores and pulmonary function showed a greater decline 2 years after the first colonization compared to the other groups. FVC and FEV1 values in patients colonized by BC were not worse than these of patients colonized by PA. Moreover, BC affected older patients with advanced lung disease and often previously colonized with PA. These results suggested that co-colonization by PA and BC could be a more deleterious factor on the pulmonary evolution than the isolated colonization by PA or BC, and that BC could be a severity marker rather than a cause. In addition, after starting the utilization of mouthpieces with filter at single use for spirometry in 1993 (without any other change in preventive measures already taken during hospitalization), incidence of BC decreased from 8.2% to zero, and no new case of BC colonization has been observed over the last 4 years.
Conclusion: Co-colonization of CF patients by PA and BC is more deleterious for pulmonary evolution than colonization by one of these bacteria alone. Re-inforcement of environmental measures during hospitalization (e.g. use of disposable mouthpieces for spirometry) was sufficient to reduce the transmission of BC.