Burkholderia cepacia epidemiology and pathogenesis: implications for infection control

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Much has been learned during the past 2 years about the microbiology and taxonomy of Burkholderia cepacia. Several distinct species have been identified in what is now referred to as the B. cepacia complex. Preliminary studies indicate that certain of these species are more likely to colonize and cause severe pulmonary infection in persons with cystic fibrosis. Ongoing investigations will expand these findings and have the potential to modify current infection control policies. The commercial use of B. cepacia as an antifungal biopesticide and in bioremediation has attracted increasing attention from industry recently and raises concerns within the cystic fibrosis community. Consensus regarding the potential threat of such uses to cystic fibrosis patients is being sought by governmental agencies and agricultural and biomedical researchers.

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