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Incidental Splenic Granuloma Due to Burkholderia pseudomallei: A Case of Asymptomatic Latent Melioidosis?

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  • Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Selangor, Malaysia; Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Department of Medical Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

We report a rare case of an asymptomatic latent melioidosis lesion in a posttraumatic splenectomy specimen from a diabetic patient. The 2-cm yellowish, lobulated lesion was found in the splenic parenchyma well away from the traumatized areas. Microscopically, it consisted of a central area of necrosis and exudate surrounded by macrophages, epithelioid cells, lymphocytes, and occasional multinucleated giant cells. Burkholderia bacilli were detected by a novel in situ hybridization (ISH) assay, and confirmed by polymerase chain reaction and sequencing to be Burkholderia pseudomallei. As melioidosis was not suspected initially, bacterial culture was not done but electron microscopy showed morphologically viable and dividing bacilli in the lesion. Moreover, the surgical wound became infected with B. pseudomallei several days post-surgery. After treatment with ceftazidime and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, the wound infection cleared. We believe this could be a unique case of asymptomatic latent melioidosis in the spleen. In endemic countries, chronic granulomas should be investigated for B. pseudomallei infection, and if available, ISH may be helpful for diagnosis.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Kum Thong Wong, Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. E-mail: wongkt@ummc.edu.my† These authors contributed equally to this work.

Financial support: This work was supported by University of Malaya High Impact Research Grant H2001-E0004.

Authors' addresses: Tak Kuan Chow, Lin Chuan Eu, Jayalakshmi Pailoor, and Kum Thong Wong, Department of Pathology, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, E-mails: tkchow@ummc.edu.my, eric_elc@yahoo.com, jayalaks@ummc.edu.my, and wongkt@um.edu.my. Kin Fah Chin, Department of Surgery, Universiti of Tunku Abdul Rahman, Sungai Long, Malaysia, E-mail: chinkf@utar.edu.my. Kien Chai Ong, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, E-mail: kcong@ummc.edu.my. Jamunarani Vadivelu, Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, E-mail: jamuna@ummc.edu.my.

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