Factors influencing acquisition of Burkholderia cepacia complex organisms in patients with cystic fibrosis

Kay A Ramsay, Claire A Butler, Stuart Paynter, Robert S Ware, Timothy J Kidd, Claire E Wainwright, Scott C Bell

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Burkholderia cepacia complex organisms are important transmissible pathogens found in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. In recent years, the rates of cross-infection of epidemic strains have declined due to effective infection control efforts. However, cases of sporadic B. cepacia complex infection continue to occur in some centers. The acquisition pathways and clinical outcomes of sporadic B. cepacia complex infection are unclear. We sought to determine the patient clinical characteristics, outcomes, incidence, and genotypic relatedness for all cases of B. cepacia complex infection at two CF centers. We also sought to study the external conditions that influence the acquisition of infection. From 2001 to 2011, 67 individual organisms were cultured from the respiratory samples of 64 patients. Sixty-five percent of the patients were adults, in whom chronic infections were more common (68%) (P = 0.006). The incidence of B. cepacia complex infection increased by a mean of 12% (95% confidence interval [CI], 3 to 23%) per year. The rates of transplantation and death were similar in the incident cases who developed chronic infection compared to those in patients with chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection. Multilocus sequence typing revealed 50 individual strains from 65 isolates. Overall, 85% of the patients were infected with unique strains, suggesting sporadic acquisition of infection. The yearly incidence of nonepidemic B. cepacia complex infection was positively correlated with the amount of rainfall in the two sites examined: subtropical Brisbane (r = 0.65, P = 0.031) and tropical Townsville (r = 0.82, P = 0.002). This study demonstrates that despite strict cohort segregation, new cases of unrelated B. cepacia complex infection continue to occur. These data also support an environmental origin of infection and suggest that climate conditions may be associated with the acquisition of B. cepacia complex infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3975-80
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Burkholderia Infections
  • Burkholderia cepacia complex
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Multilocus Sequence Typing
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult


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