Clinical, bacteriologic, and geographic stratification of melioidosis emerges from the Sri Lankan national surveillance program

Harindra D. Sathkumara, Adam J. Merritt, Enoka M. Corea, Shivankari Krishnananthasivam, Mohan Natesan, Timothy J.J. Inglis, Aruna Dharshan De Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Web of Science)


Melioidosis, a potentially fatal tropical infection, is said to be underdiagnosed in low-income countries. An increase in melioidosis cases in Sri Lanka allowed us to analyze the relationship among clinical outcome, bacteriology, epidemiology, and geography in the first 108 laboratory-confirmed cases of melioidosis from a nationwide surveillance program. The additional 76 cases of laboratory-confirmed melioidosis confirmed further associations between Burkholderia pseudomallei multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and infection phenotype; ST1137/unifocal bacteremic infection (Χ2 = 3.86, P < 0.05), ST1136/multifocal infection without bacteremia (Χ2 = 15.8, P < 0.001), and ST1132/unifocal nonbacteremic infection (Χ2 = 6.34, P = 0.02). ST1137 infections were predominantly seen in the Western Province, whereas ST1132, 1135, and 1136 infections predominated in the Northwestern Province. Early participating centers in the surveillance program had a lower melioidosis-associated mortality than later participants (Χ2 = 3.99, P < 0.05). The based upon related sequence types (eBURST) algorithm, aMLSTclustering method that infers founding genotypes and patterns of descent for related isolates and clonal complexes in an unrooted tree, showed uneven distribution of sequence types (STs). There was spatial clustering of the commonest STs (ST1132, 1136, and 1137) in the Western, Northwestern, and Central provinces. The recent increase in melioidosis in Sri Lanka uncovered by laboratory-enhanced surveillance is likely to be the result of a combination of improved laboratory detection, increased clinician awareness, recruitment of clinical centers, and small outbreaks. Further development of the surveillance program into a national genotyping-supported melioidosis registry will improve melioidosis diagnosis, treatment, and prevention where underdiagnosis and mortality rates remain high.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)607-615
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


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