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J Formos Med Assoc. 2007 Dec;106(12):1013-22. doi: 10.1016/S0929-6646(08)60077-7.

Bacteremic melioidosis in southern Taiwan: clinical characteristics and outcome.

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Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Tainan Municipal Hospital, Tainan, Taiwan.



In recent years, the number of cases of melioidosis has increased substantially in Taiwan. However, there have been no publications specifically studying patients who have bacteremic melioidosis in Taiwan. This study aimed to determine the clinical characteristics and outcome of patients with bacteremic melioidosis in Taiwan.


We retrospectively reviewed the records of 30 patients (mean age, 65 years) with blood culture-confirmed melioidosis who were managed at Tainan Municipal Hospital between June 2004 and January 2007. Nineteen out of 30 patients were identified within 1 month after Typhoon Haitang struck in mid-July 2005. A comparison of demographic characteristics, underlying conditions, biochemistry results, and clinical presentations between survivors (n = 21) and non-survivors (n = 9) was analyzed.


Underlying conditions were identified in 90% of patients, diabetes mellitus being the commonest (50%). The most common site of infection was the lung (70%), followed by the genitourinary tract (13.3%), peritoneum (6.7%), meninges (3.3%), skin (3.3%), and aorta (3.3%). There were also 20% of cases without a primary site of infection being identified. Twenty percent of patients had multiple sites of infection. The number of bacteremic melioidosis with pneumonia was significantly higher in the post-typhoon outbreak (p = 0.001). Comparing survivors and non-survivors, there were no significant differences in age, gender, underlying conditions, and presence of pneumonia. Significant differences were evident in elevated serum creatinine (p = 0.038) and pH (p = 0.004). Fifty-six percent (5/9) of deaths occurred within 48 hours after presentation to hospital and 67% (6/9) of deaths occurred in the post-typhoon outbreak. Patients with septic shock (p < 0.001), acute renal failure (p = 0.013), and respiratory failure (p = 0.001) had significantly higher mortality. The in-hospital mortality rate was 27% and the relapse rate was 14%.


The lungs were the most common site of infection in patients with bacteremic melioidosis and rapidly progressive community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) was the major cause leading to mortality. Patients with septic shock, acute renal failure, and acute respiratory failure had a much higher mortality rate. Typhoon Haitang was associated not only with higher numbers of cases and deaths but also with pneumonic presentations. Locally adapted guidelines need to be developed for the treatment of CAP in an endemic area of melioidosis in southern Taiwan and after extreme weather events such as typhoons or heavy rains.

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