Melioidosis in Africa: Time to Raise Awareness and Build Capacity for Its Detection, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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  • 1 Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine and Center for Experimental Molecular Medicine (CEMM), Amsterdam University Medical Centers, AMC, Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
  • | 2 Department of Biochemistry, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Lagos, Nigeria;
  • | 3 Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria;
  • | 4 World Health Organization, Regional Office for Africa, Dhakar-Hub, Senegal;
  • | 5 Department of Infectious Hazard Management, Health Emergency Programme, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland;
  • | 6 VNU Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vietnam National University, Hanoi, Vietnam;
  • | 7 World Health Organization, Abuja, Nigeria;
  • | 8 Institute of Hygiene, Microbiology and Environmental Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Austria;
  • | 9 Department of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria

Melioidosis is a tropical infectious disease caused by the soil-dwelling bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei with a mortality of up to 50% in low resource settings. Only a few cases have been reported from African countries. However, studies on the global burden of melioidosis showed that Africa holds a significant unrecognized disease burden, with Nigeria being at the top of the list. The first World Health Organization African Melioidosis Workshop was organized in Lagos, Nigeria, with representatives of health authorities, microbiology laboratories, and clinical centers from across the continent. Dedicated hands-on training was given on laboratory diagnostics of B. pseudomallei. This meeting report summarizes the objectives discussed, such as raising awareness on melioidosis and building capacity for the detection, diagnosis, biosafety, treatment, and prevention of this dreadful neglected disease across Africa by bringing together regional and international experts to share best practices. It is important to join forces with the African Centers for Disease Control, WHO, African Sepsis Alliance, and Antimicrobial Resistance action plans.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Emma Birnie, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine and Center for Experimental Molecular Medicine (CEMM), Amsterdam University Medical Centers, AMC, Meibergdreef 9, 1105 AZ, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail: e.birnie@amsterdamumc.nl

These authors contributed equally to this work.

Financial support: This workshop was made possible through the generous support of the WHO, together with the support of a Research Grant (2018) to E. B. by the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID).

Disclosure: The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of WHO or the authors’ affiliated institutions.

Authors’ addresses: Emma Birnie and W. Joost Wiersinga, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine and Center for Experimental Molecular Medicine (CEMM), Amsterdam University Medical Centers, AMC, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, E-mails: e.birnie@amsterdamumc.nl and w.j.wiersinga@amsterdamumc.nl. Ayorinde James, Department of Biochemistry, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Lagos, Nigeria, E-mail: ayorindejames@gmail.com. Folake Peters, Makinwa Olajumoke, and Rita Oladele, Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria, E-mails: XXXXX, XXXXX, and oladelerita@gmail.com. Tieble Traore, World Health Organization, Regional Office for Africa, Dhakar-Hub, Senegal, E-mail: traoret@who.int. Eric Bertherat, Department of Infectious Hazard Management, Health Emergency Programme, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, E-mail: XXXXX. Trinh Trung, VNU Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vietnam National University, Hanoi, Vietnam, E-mail: tttrung@vnu.edu.vn. Naidoo Dhamari, World Health Organization, Abuja, Nigeria, E-mail: naidood@who.int. Ivo Steinmetz, Institute of Hygiene, Microbiology and Environmental Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Austria, E-mail: ivo.steinmetz@medunigraz.at. Alani Akanmu, Department of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria, E-mail: asulaimona@gmail.com.

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