Melioidosis as an emerging global problem.
There is remarkably little known about the incidence of melioidosis outside a few countries (Thailand, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia). Presumably it is widespread in tropical south east Asia. Elsewhere there are tantalising glimpses of the tip of what may be a large iceberg. Since a specific diagnosis of melioidosis requires awareness on the part of clinicians, and the existence of a laboratory capable of isolating and identifying Burkholderia pseudomallei, a luxury not available in most rural tropical areas, the size of this iceberg is likely to remain unknown for the foreseeable future. There is mounting evidence that the disease is endemic in the Indian sub-continent and the Caribbean, and there have been unsubstantiated reports of recent cases in South Africa and the Middle East. It is unclear whether melioidosis has really spread to such areas relatively recently, or has been there but unrecognised for a long time. Almost all cases diagnosed in temperate climates have been imported from the tropics, with the exception of a unique outbreak which occurred in France in the mid-1970s. With increasing world wide travel of both humans and other animals, the potential exists for melioidosis to spread to new and fertile pastures.