These proteobacteria normally reside within free-living amoebae including Acanthamoeba spp and Hartmannella spp, which are then ingested accidentally by dogs.
Species pathogenic to dogs include:
- Burkholderia pseudomallei (formerly Pseudomonas pseudomallei)
The main method of infection is via penetrating wounds, inhalation, ingestion and milk transmission in neonates.
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.
The bacteria have been reported to reside within macrophages and in humans, may lie dormant for many years before recrudescence.
Diagnosis has been based on indirect hemagglutination for detection of circulating antibodies.
Treatment requires long-term therapy with intracellularly-active antibiotics such as doxycycline, chloramphenicol or sulfonamides.
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