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Melioidosis is a neglected tropical disease with an estimated annual mortality rate of 89,000 in 45 countries across tropical regions. The causative agent is Burkholderia pseudomallei, a gram-negative soil-dwelling bacterium. In Thailand, B. pseudomallei can be found across multiple regions, along with the low-virulence B. thailandensis and the recently discovered B. thailandensis variant (BTCV), which expresses B. pseudomallei-like capsular polysaccharide. Comprehensive studies of human immune responses to B. thailandensis variants and cross-reactivity to B. pseudomallei are not complete. We evaluated human immune responses to B. pseudomallei, B. thailandensis, and BTCV in melioidosis patients and healthy persons in B. pseudomallei-endemic areas using a range of humoral and cellular immune assays. We found immune cross-reactivity to be strong for both humoral and cellular immunity among B. pseudomallei, B. thailandensis, and BTCV. Our findings suggest that environmental exposure to low-virulence strains may build cellular immunity to B. pseudomallei.

Original publication




Journal article


Emerging infectious diseases

Publication Date





463 - 471