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Burkholderia cepacia

The Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) is a group of closely related Gram negative, rod-shaped bacteria that can be found in soil and water. Bcc emerged in the healthcare setting as a significant and transmissible pathogen causing pulmonary infections among pediatric patients with cystic fibrosis.

Bcc can be spread by person-to-person contact, contact with contaminated surfaces, and environmental exposure. Outbreaks have been linked to intrinsic and extrinsic contamination of various products used in healthcare settings. These products usually have an aqueous component or are exposed to tap water. Bcc have intrinsic resistance to antimicrobials and preservatives which enhance their ability to contaminate aqueous products.

Bcc can form biofilms in building water systems, including healthcare facilities and product manufacturing sites.  Contaminated medical products which have led to outbreaks in healthcare facilities include saline flushes, mouthwash, oral liquid docusate, skin cleanser, ultrasound gel, nasal spray, nebulizers, antiseptics, disinfectant solutions, balloon pumps, and temperature probes.

Key Points:

  • Maintain a low threshold (e.g., single case or small cluster) for reporting a Bcc outbreak or product concern.

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Examples of Outbreaks

An outbreak due to intrinsic contamination of a non-sterile skin cleanser product: Burkholderia cepacia complex outbreak linked to a no-rinse cleansing foam product, United States – 2017–2018 | Epidemiology & Infection | Cambridge Core

Disclaimer: The positions and views expressed in these materials do not necessarily represent the official positions of CORHA’s member organizations.