Background: The gram-negative organism, Burkholderia pseudomallei, is responsible for the disease melioidosis. Septic arthritis and osteomyelitis due to B. pseudomallei are rare but recognised presentations of the disease. Methods: A prospective database of all cases of melioidosis in the Northern Territory of Australia has been kept since October 1989. Entries to April 2009 were reviewed and cases involving bone and/or joint were investigated. We also present in detail the case reports of 3 presentations of bone and joint melioidosis. Results: There were 536 presentations of melioidosis during the 20-year study period. Amongst these, there were 13 patients with primary septic arthritis and 7 cases of primary osteomyelitis. Septic arthritis and osteomyelitis were secondary to primary melioidosis elsewhere in 14 and 7 patients respectively. Melioidosis patients with bone/joint involvement were more likely to be Indigenous (p=0.006) and female (p=0.023) compared to patients with other presentations of disease. Conclusions: Timely microbiological diagnosis and prompt treatment of melioidosis involving bone and/or joint with appropriate intravenous antibiotics is important, as is adequate surgical drainage and debridement where indicated. A subsequent protracted course of antibiotic eradication therapy is important to avoid relapse of disease.
- Septic arthritis