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BackgroundMelioidosis therapy is divided into an intravenous intensive phase and an oral eradication phase. The Darwin melioidosis treatment guideline has evolved over two decades, with over 1150 consecutive patients with culture-confirmed melioidosis managed under the Darwin Prospective Melioidosis Study. The current guideline, published in 2015, has been associated with low rates of recrudescence, relapse and mortality, and together with the treatment trials in Thailand, forms the basis for consensus global guidelines. We aimed to reassess the Darwin guideline and determine if any adjustments to the recommendations better reflect current practice in melioidosis therapy at Royal Darwin Hospital.Methodology/principal findingsThis retrospective cohort study reviews the characteristics, admission duration, duration of intravenous antibiotics, recrudescence, recurrence and mortality in all patients presenting with first episode culture-confirmed melioidosis in the tropical north of Australia's Northern Territory from 1st October 2012 until 1st January 2017. 234 patients were available for analysis. 16 (6.8%) died during the intensive phase treatment and 6 (2.6%) did not have complete treatment at Royal Darwin Hospital, leaving 212 patients for analysis. Six (2.8%) patients had recrudescence during therapy and 10 (4.7%) had recurrent melioidosis (relapse or new infection) after completion of therapy. Persisting osteomyelitis requiring surgery was an important reason for recrudescence as was unrecognized osteomyelitis for relapse. For patients presenting with an antibiotic duration determining focus of pneumonia, durations of intravenous antibiotics were often prolonged beyond the current 2-week minimum treatment recommendation. Prolongation of therapy in pneumonia mostly occurred in patients presenting with multi-lobar disease or with concurrent blood culture positivity.Conclusions/significanceThe 2015 Darwin melioidosis guideline is working well with low rates of recrudescence, relapse and mortality. Based on the practice of the treating clinicians, the 2020 revision of the guideline has been adjusted to include a duration of a minimum of 3 weeks of intravenous antibiotics for those with concurrent bacteraemia and pneumonia involving only a single lobe and those with bilateral and unilateral multi-lobar pneumonias who do not have bacteraemia. We also extend to a minimum of 4 weeks intravenous therapy for those with concurrent bacteraemia and bilateral or unilateral multi-lobar pneumonia.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS neglected tropical diseases

Publication Date





Global and Tropical Health Division, Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT, Australia.


Humans, Burkholderia pseudomallei, Bacteremia, Melioidosis, Osteomyelitis, Recurrence, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Retrospective Studies, Prospective Studies, Adult, Middle Aged, Thailand, Northern Territory, Female, Male, Guidelines as Topic, Selection, Genetic, Administration, Intravenous