Melioidosis is endemic in many rural areas in Southeast Asia where facilities for culture and identification of Burkholderia pseudomallei are often limited. We performed a prospective observational study in patients presenting with fever to Mahosot Hospital, the primary referral hospital in Laos, to establish whether the detection of abscesses on ultrasound could support a presumptive diagnosis of melioidosis. All patients underwent ultrasound examination to detect abscesses in the liver, spleen, prostate, or, if indicated, subcutaneous tissue. We enrolled 153 patients, including 18 patients with melioidosis. Of these, 11 (61%) had an abscess at one or more sites, including five (28%) with splenic and/or liver abscesses. Absence of abscesses cannot rule out melioidosis, but the positive predictive value of abscesses for melioidosis was high at 93% (88-96%). Therefore, in endemic areas, the presence of abscesses in febrile patients should prompt empiric antibiotic therapy for melioidosis even in the absence of culture confirmation.
The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene
Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.