Burkholderia spp

From Dog
Burkholderia spp growing on agar culture

Burkholderia spp are a zoonotic soil and water proteobacteria endemic to many areas in the Asia-Pacific region[1].

These proteobacteria normally reside within free-living amoebae including Acanthamoeba spp and Hartmannella spp[2], which are then ingested accidentally by dogs.

Although few cases of clinical melioidosis have been reported in dogs[3] compared with cats[4], seroprevalence rates in endemic regions is relatively common.

Species pathogenic to dogs include:

  • Burkholderia pseudomallei (formerly Pseudomonas pseudomallei)[5]

The main method of infection is via penetrating wounds, inhalation, ingestion and milk transmission in neonates[6].

The bacteria can affect any organ and clinical signs range from ulcerated skin lesions, chronic subcutaneous abscesses which need to be differentiated from Mycobacterium spp infections, to abscess in the lungs/liver/kidney/eye/brain, and chronic pneumonia and acute fulminant septicaemia[7].

The bacteria have been reported to reside within macrophages and in humans, may lie dormant for many years before recrudescence[8].

Diagnosis has been based on indirect hemagglutination for detection of circulating antibodies[9].

Treatment requires long-term therapy with intracellularly-active antibiotics such as doxycycline, chloramphenicol or sulfonamides.


  1. Stedham MA (1971) Melioidosis in dogs in Vietnam. J Am Vet Med Assoc 158(11):1948-1950
  2. Inglis TJ et al (2004) Preliminary report on the northern Australian melioidosis environmental surveillance project. Epidemiol Infect 132(5):813-820
  3. Lloyd JM et al(1988) Melioidosis in a dog. Aust Vet J 65(6):191-192
  4. Parkes et al (2009) Primary ocular melioidosis due to a single genotype of Burkholderia pseudomallei in two cats from Arnhem Land in the Northern Terriotry of Australia. JFMS 11: 856-863
  5. Sim SH et al (2008) The core and accessory genomes of Burkholderia pseudomallei: implications for human melioidosis. PLoS Pathog 4(10):e1000178
  6. Currie BJ & Carapetis JR (2000) Skin infections and infestations in Aboriginal communities in northern Australia. Australas J Dermatol 41(3):139-143
  7. Moe JB et al (1972) Canine melioidosis. Clinical observations in three military dogs in Vietnam. Am J Trop Med Hyg 21(3):351-355
  8. Currie B et al (1994) Pseudomonas pseudomallei isolates collected over 25 years from a non-tropical endemic focus show clonality on the basis of ribotyping. Epidemiol Infect 113(2):307-312
  9. Alexander AD et al(1972) Zoonotic infections in military scout and tracker dogs in Vietnam. Infect Immun 5(5):745-749