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Burkholderia cepacia complex

Hi my sons cough swab results came back saying he has burkholderia cepacia complex. I've had to send another swab but not sure why. I have read up on this infection and from what I understand I am very worried. Can you tell me what I should expect to happen and what the likelyhood of completely getting rid of this infection is please.
Dear Questioner

Many thanks for submitting your question to ECORN. Your two concerns are 1) what you should expect when Burkholderia cepacia complex is isolated, and 2) what is the likelyhood of eradicating this infection.

To address your first question, Burkholderia cepacia complex consists of several species of bacteria, some of which are more harmful than others to people with CF. It can be very difficult to predict how this infection would affect an individual. In some people, this infection may not worsen lung disease whereas in others the rate of lung decline appears to be slightly faster. For a small number of people, it can cause rapid decline in lung function leading to more severe lung disease.

It is important that bacteria are carefully identified as this can determine the choice of antibiotics that are used to treat your son. In other words it may be useful for you to confirm the species of B. cepacia the team have identified in your son’s cough swab sample. This may be the reason behind a second sample being sent to the laboratory. B. cepacia bacteria are resistant to many antibiotics, which makes them difficult to treat once they infect the lungs. However, some species may be successfully treated with combinations of antibiotics. The CF Trust Guidelines recommend that eradication should be considered. They discuss anecdotal reports that some isolates can be successfully eradicated with early aggressive antibiotic therapy before chronic infection becomes established. However the optimal eradication therapy is not yet known and this policy has not been widely adopted. We would suggest discussing the treatment options with your son’s CF team.


The answer is edited by: PhD Lisa Kent