Author: Allen Cheuk-Seng Cheng

Cheng, Allen Cheuk-Seng, 2005 MELIOIDOSIS: EPIDEMIOLOGY, PATHOPHYSIOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT, Flinders University, School of Medicine

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In under a century, melioidosis, the infection due to Burkholderia pseudomallei, has emerged from Whitmore’s series of glanders-like infections amongst the morphia addicts in Burma to a major cause of mortality in northeastern Thailand and northern Australia. Also endemic in other parts of south-east Asia, melioidosis may have varied presentations ranging from severe, overwhelming infection to chronic, low grade disease. Observational evidence had suggested that granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF), a naturally occurring substance produced by the body in response to infection, may have been useful in reducing the high mortality associated with the more severe forms of this infection. Other observations linked the occurrence of this disease to various environmental factors, such as contamination of drinking water and the annual rainfall. This thesis explores and attempts to quantify these associations. There are three parts to this thesis. In the first part, I reviewed the epidemiology and management of patients with melioidosis. The use of G-CSF and meropenem was associated with a fall in mortality, although other factors may have at least partially contributed to this effect. In the second part, I progressed towards a clinical trial of G-CSF. There was no other evidence supporting the use of G-CSF in severe sepsis and ethical issues precluded a trial in Darwin. There was not evidence from laboratory models of G-CSF action in melioidosis to support the use of G-CSF in patients, although there remained some doubt regarding the applicability of such models to human disease. I examined clinical methods to identify patients at high risk of death from melioidosis. A simple scoring system based on clinical and laboratory parameters was developed and externally validated. However, clinical definitions of severe sepsis appeared to be better predictors of mortality. A clinical trial based on clinical definitions was commenced in Thailand. In the final part, I explored the question of whether different strains or B. pseudomallei or different environmental conditions caused different patterns of infection. There was no evidence that strain types of this bacterium determine the pattern or severity of disease, but weather conditions appeared to influence the distribution of disease in northern Australia.

Keywords: melioidosis,Burkholderia pseudomallei,epidemiology,granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF),sepsis,drug therapy,bacterial typing techniques,Australia,Thailand

Subject: Medicine thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2005
School: School of Medicine
Supervisor: Bart Currie