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Sharon J. Peacock

and David A. B. Dance

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date: 19 January 2022

Glanders is a serious zoonotic disease that primarily affects equids (horses, mules and donkeys). A disease eradication programme based on case detection and destruction of infected domestic animals has been highly successful and the number of reported glanders cases in animals worldwide is now very low. Human glanders is extremely rare and associated with occupations associated with extensive contact with equids. Glanders is caused by Burkholderia mallei, a Gram-negative, non-motile, facultative intracellular organism that is an obligate parasite of equids with no other known natural reservoir. B. mallei is transmitted by direct contact with infected animals, or indirectly via communal food and water sources that have become contaminated by an infected animal. The clinical presentation in equids can be acute or chronic and has been categorized into nasal, pulmonary and cutaneous forms. Diagnosis is based on culturing B. mallei from lesions or exudates and skin or serological testing. Infected animals are usually euthanized. Optimal antimicrobial therapy for human glanders is unknown, and current advice is to adopt antimicrobial treatment guidelines for human melioidosis. There is no vaccine available for either humans or other animals. B. mallei is considered a potential biological weapon and is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention category B select agent.

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