Melioidosis and Glanders as Possible Biological Weapons

  • David Allan Brett Dance
Part of the Emerging Infectious Diseases of the 21st Century book series (EIDC)


Glanders and melioidosis are caused by two closely related Gram-negative bacilli, known as Burkholderia mallei and Burkholderia pseudomallei, respectively. Both are considered to have potential as bioweapons, and glanders has actually been used deliberately against animals and humans in the past. Of the two, melioidosis has been far more studied in recent years, as it has been recognized increasingly as an important disease in some parts of the tropics (Dance, 1991, 2001), whereas naturally occurring glanders is extremely rare nowadays. Over the past few years, there has been huge progress in our understanding of the basic biology and patho-genesis of these species, and the sequencing of both their genomes has now been completed. This contrasts starkly with our lack of understanding of many aspects of their ecology, epidemiology, and the clinical diseases that they cause. Although glanders has the longer pedigree as a biothreat agent, this review will particularly focus on melioidosis, about which more is known, as the agents are so closely related and their clinical manifestations are very similar.


Capsular Polysaccharide Intracellular Survival Splenic Abscess Burkholderia Pseudomallei Deliberate Release 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Allan Brett Dance
    • 1
  1. 1.Health Protection AgencyDepartment of Microbiology, Derriford HospitalPlymouthUK

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