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Burkholderia cepacia

Burkholderia cepacia is a catalase-producing, motile, Gram-negative rod-shaped bacterium of the genus burkholderia. In addition to burkholderia cepacia, the burkholderia cepacia complex (BCC) includes other bacteria species, such as burkholderia cenocepacia, burkholderia dolosa, and burkholderia multivorans. Burkholderia belong to the group of non-fermenting bacteria (non-fermenters).

Burkholderia cepacia causes nosocomial infections, particularly in patients with weakened immune systems. Patients with cystic fibrosis (mucoviscidosis), a hereditary metabolic disorder in which the glands produce bodily fluids that are much thicker than normal, are particularly at risk.

Burkholderia cepacia can cause the following disease patterns, among others:

  • Respiratory infections

  • Wound infections

  • Urinary tract infections

Burkholderia cepacia is ubiquitous and is found particularly in soil, water, and in plants. The bacterium is a biofilm former.

Relevance of pathogen in transmission in endoscopy

  • Gastroenterology: Not relevant

  • Pulmonology: High

  • Ear, nose, and throat: Low

  • Urology: Not relevant

Relevance for endoscope surveillance

  • Low or moderate concern organism

Transmission route

Burkholderia cepacia is transmitted via infected droplets/in an airborne manner. The pathogen can also be spread via direct or indirect contact with contaminated people or surfaces, via contaminated food, or contaminated water.

Burkholderia cepacia can also be spread and transmitted due to inadequate water quality in healthcare facilities. The water used for final rinsing of endoscopes must therefore be microbiologically controlled, to prevent a recontamination of the endoscope.

Resistance to antibiotics

Burkholderia cepacia shows pronounced resistance to various antibiotics. For example, resistance to aminoglycosides, polymyxin B, and fluoroquinolones, have been described.

Further readings

  1. Burkholderia cepacia in Healthcare Settings, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/hai/organisms/bcepacia.html (accessed on 08.10.2021).

  2. Gries O, Ly T: Infektologie – Kompendium humanpathogener Infektionskrankheiten und Erreger, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2019.

  3. Jones AM et al. Burkholderia cepacia: current clinical issues, environmental controversies and ethical dilemmas, Eur Respir J. 2001 Feb;17(2):295-301.

  4. Rosengarten D et al. Cluster of pseudoinfections with Burkholderia cepacia associated with a contaminated washer-disinfector in a bronchoscopy unit, Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2010; 31: 769–771.