Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume 9, Issue 3, Pages 177-182

Transmissibility and Infection Control Implications of Burkolderia cepacia in Cystic Fibrosis

Scott K Fung,1 H Dick,1 H Devlin,1 and E Tullis2

1The Wellesley Central Hospital Department of Microbiology, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2The Wellesley Central Hospital Adult Cystic Fibrosis Clinic, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Copyright © 1998 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVE: To describe the microbiology and potential virulence factors of Burkholderia cepacia; to discuss the studies that have investigated its mode of transmission among cystic fibrosis patients; and to identify the major risk factors associated with acquisition of this pathogen inside and outside of the hospital environment.

DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE search of the literature published between 1986 and 1997 using the key words/subject words Pseudomonas cepacia, Burkholderia cepacia, cystic fibrosis, infection control and transmissibility, and the bibliography of selected papers.

DATA EXTRACTION: Selected studies examining epidemiology, microbiology, virulence factors and mode of transmission of B cepacia in cystic fibrosis.

DATA SYNTHESIS AND CONCLUSIONS: B cepacia is a multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacillus that has recently been recognized as a major respiratory pathogen in patients with cystic fibrosis. Colonization by this organism can lead to rapid pulmonary deterioration and premature death. Recent studies based on genomic subtyping techniques have suggested that it can be transmitted from person to person. Close social contact and hospitalization have been identified as risk factors for cross-infection. With the implementation of strict infection control policies such as segregation according to colonization status, the rate of new colonization has substantially decreased in most cystic fibrosis treatment centres.