Interventions for treating melioidosis

Plain language summary pending.

Authors' conclusions: 

Regimens for the acute phase of illness should contain ceftazidime or imipenem. It is not yet clear if combinations of treatments in the early phase reduce relapse. For oral therapy after the acute phase of treatment, trials suggest that conventional four drug regimens can be used for treatment.

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Melioidosis is an infectious disease that occurs in tropical regions, particularly in Thailand. It is caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei and is a serious condition which can be fatal. Beta-lactam antibiotics have dramatically reduced the risk of death, but mortality still remains high.


To summarize reliable evidence on the effects of treatment regimens on death and relapse.

Search strategy: 

We searched the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group Specialized Register (August 2004), CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library Issue 3, 2004), MEDLINE (1966 to August 2004), EMBASE (1980 to August 2004), BIOSIS (up to August 2004), Health Star (up to August 2004), and reference lists of articles. We also contacted pharmaceutical companies and researchers in the field.

Selection criteria: 

Randomized and quasi-randomized controlled trials comparing antibiotic regimens in people with melioidosis.

Data collection and analysis: 

We independently assessed the eligibility of studies and the risk of bias in the trials. Adverse effects information was collected from the trials.

Main results: 

Nine trials, all from Thailand, involving a total of 872 participants were included. For intravenous therapy in the acute phase, we identified six trials with a total of 619 participants. Chloramphenicol, doxycycline, and co-trimoxazole (trimethoprim-sulphamethoxazole) combination regimens were associated with a mortality of 50% or more (two studies). Participants randomized to regimens including ceftazidime were more likely to survive (risk ratio [RR] 0.46; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.30 to 0.71). When ceftazidime-containing regimens were compared with beta-lactam or alternative beta-lactamase inhibitor regimens such as co-amoxiclav (amoxycillin-clavulanic acid) and cefoperazone-sulbactam, or with imipenem, mortality rates were similar (RR 1.06; 95% CI 0.81 to 1.39). For oral therapy in the maintenance phase, we found three trials of 253 participants. They compared the conventional regimen (chloramphenicol, doxycycline, and trimethoprim-sulphamethoxazole) with other regimens (amoxycillin-clavulanic acid, ciprofloxacin-azithromycin, and doxycycline alone). There were fewer deaths with the conventional regimen, but no statistically significant differences demonstrated.