The Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) is a group of closely related bacterial species that emerged in the 1980s as the etiological agents of severe and often lethal respiratory infections among cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. After several outbreaks in CF centers in Europe and North America, segregation measures were introduced to avoid patient-to-patient transmission. Presently, the prevalence of Bcc infections among CF patients worldwide is below 5% in the majority of CF centers, although exceptions are registered in some European countries. Infections by these pathogens remain problematic due to the high resistance to antimicrobials, the easy patient-to-patient transmission, and the unpredictable outcome of infections that range from asymptomatic carriage to the cepacia syndrome, a fulminating pneumonia often associated with septicemia that can lead to the decease of patients within a period of time as short as 1 week. In this chapter, we review the evolving epidemiology of Bcc infections in CF patients, the virulence traits and mechanisms used by these bacteria, and the recent developments in vaccine and vaccine components research to prevent Bcc infections.
Part of the book: Progress in Understanding Cystic Fibrosis