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Scientists find mechanism that leads to drug resistance in bacteria causing melioidosis

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Researchers in South East Asia have identified a novel mechanism whereby the organism Burkholderia pseudomallei – the cause of melioidosis, a neglected tropical infectious disease – develops resistance to ceftazidime, the standard antibiotic treatment. The change also makes the drug-resistant bacterium difficult to detect.

B. pseudomallei is found in water and soil predominately in tropical climates and especially in South East Asia. It can infect both humans and animals and causes melioidosis. The disease often occurs in people who have underlying diseases such as type 2 diabetes or renal disease. Symptoms range from relatively mild to severe, and the mortality rate in Asia is as high as four out of ten cases.

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