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MELIOIDOSIS IN THE AMERICAS

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  • 1 Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, PathWest Laboratory Medicine Western Australia, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia; Hospital São José, Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil; Federal University of Ceará, Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil
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Melioidosis is a potentially severe bacterial infection caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei. There has been growing awareness of the disease in the Americas, particularly since the Vietnam conflict when it was diagnosed in returning service personnel. Accidental laboratory exposure indicates the difficulty making a culture-based diagnosis when melioidosis has not been considered in the differential diagnosis. Melioidosis is most likely underdiagnosed in tropical Central and South America where conditions are more suited to persistence of B. pseudomallei in the environment. Recent melioidosis case clusters in northeastern Brazil highlight the threat posed to rural populations located far from specialist services. Increased clinical awareness of the disease and improvements in laboratory diagnostic methods are likely to bring wider recognition of melioidosis in the Americas.

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