Predicted global distribution of Burkholderia pseudomallei and burden of melioidosis.
Limmathurotsakul D., Golding N., Dance DA., Messina JP., Pigott DM., Moyes CL., Rolim DB., Bertherat E., Day NP., Peacock SJ., Hay SI.
Burkholderia pseudomallei, a highly pathogenic bacterium that causes melioidosis, is commonly found in soil in Southeast Asia and Northern Australia1,2. Melioidosis can be difficult to diagnose due to its diverse clinical manifestations and the inadequacy of conventional bacterial identification methods3. The bacterium is intrinsically resistant to a wide range of antimicrobials, and treatment with ineffective antimicrobials may result in case fatality rates (CFRs) exceeding 70%4,5. The importation of infected animals has, in the past, spread melioidosis to non-endemic areas6,7. The global distribution of B. pseudomallei and burden of melioidosis, however, remain poorly understood. Here, we map documented human and animal cases, and the presence of environmental B. pseudomallei, and combine this in a formal modelling framework8-10 to estimate the global burden of melioidosis. We estimate there to be 165,000 (95% credible interval 68,000-412,000) human melioidosis cases per year worldwide, of which 89,000 (36,000-227,000) die. Our estimates suggest that melioidosis is severely underreported in the 45 countries in which it is known to be endemic and that melioidosis is likely endemic in a further 34 countries which have never reported the disease. The large numbers of estimated cases and fatalities emphasise that the disease warrants renewed attention from public health officials and policy makers.