Burkholderia Pseudomallei: An Emerging Bacterial Pathogen and Potential Bioweapon
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Burkholderia pseduomallei is a bacteria that lives in the soil and water in tropical areas. It is the causative agent of the disease melioidosis which affects both humans and animals. Melioidosis is a fatal pneumonia that is endemic in Southeast Asia and northern Australia and is now on the rise in many other parts of the world. This disease was unknown to North American doctors until a number of cases appeared in people that had traveled to these areas, in particular, soldiers who fought in the Vietname War. The primary goal of researchers is to understand how this organism causes disease in order to develop an effective vaccine for prevention. There has been an increase in interest in studying B. psedumollei since September 11, 2001 because it is listed as a Category B biological warfare agent. I will give a general talk about the disease, its use as a biological warfare agent, how to study Level 3 biocontainment organisms like this, and some research into understanding the pathogensis of the disease and developing a vaccine.