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Effectiveness of an antimicrobial treatment scheme in a confined glanders outbreak

Muhammad Saqib1, Ghulam Muhammad1, Abeera Naureen2, Muhammad H Hussain1, M Nadeem Asi1, M Khalid Mansoor3, Mehdi Toufeer3, Iahtasham Khan45, Heinrich Neubauer4 and Lisa D Sprague4*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Medicine and Surgery, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad 38040, Pakistan

2 Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Veterinary and Animal Science, Lahore, Pakistan

3 Institute of Microbiology, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad 38040, Pakistan

4 Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, Institute for Bacterial Infections and Zoonoses, Naumburger Str. 96a, D-07743 Jena, Germany

5 Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Veterinary and Animal Science, Lahore, Pakistan

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BMC Veterinary Research 2012, 8:214  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-214

Published: 7 November 2012



Glanders is a contagious and fatal zoonotic disease of solipeds caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Burkholderia (B.) mallei. Although regulations call for culling of diseased animals, certain situations e.g. wild life conservation, highly valuable breeding stock, could benefit from effective treatment schemes and post-exposure prophylaxis.


Twenty three culture positive glanderous horses were successfully treated during a confined outbreak by applying a treatment protocol of 12 weeks duration based on the parenteral administration of enrofloxacin and trimethoprim plus sulfadiazine, followed by the oral administration of doxycycline. Induction of immunosupression in six randomly chosen horses after completion of treatment did not lead to recrudescence of disease.


This study demonstrates that long term treatment of glanderous horses with a combination of various antibiotics seems to eliminate the agent from the organism. However, more studies are needed to test the effectiveness of this treatment regime on B. mallei strains from different endemic regions. Due to its cost and duration, this treatment can only be an option in certain situations and should not replace the current “testing and culling” policy, in conjunction with adequate compensation to prevent spreading of disease.

Burkholderia mallei; Zoonosis; Glanders; Horse; Treatment