Systematic review of healthcare-associated Burkholderia cepacia complex outbreaks: presentation, causes and outbreak control

Emmanuel Häfliger, Andrew Atkinson, Jonas Marschall

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4 Scopus citations


Background: Over the past decades, the Burkholderia cepacia complex (BCC) has been linked to multiple healthcare-associated outbreaks. No systematic analysis of these outbreaks has been carried out to date. The aim of this study was to conduct a systematic review of reports on nosocomial BCC outbreaks. Methods: Published studies from 1971 until 9/12/2019 presenting nosocomial BCC outbreaks were identified using Embase, Pubmed and abstracts from professional meetings. Results: We identified a total of 111 outbreak reports. Thirty-two percent of the affected institutions were academic hospitals and 43.8% community hospitals. The average outbreak duration was 198.6 ± 604.4 days. A total of 240 deaths (10% of the 2390 case patients) were reported but only 28 (1.2% of the 2390 case patients and 11.7% of the 240 deaths) were directly attributable to BCC. The source could be identified in 73.9% of the outbreaks; 53.2% were caused by contaminated medical solutions and medications, 12% were due to a contaminated disinfectant. In 28.2% of the outbreaks intrinsic product contamination was reported. Multidrug resistance was noted in 26.1% of the BCC strains. PFGE was the most frequently used typing method (43.2%) in the context of outbreak work-up. Conclusion: Medical products are the most frequent source of BCC outbreaks, representing over half of the identified sources, with 12% of the outbreaks caused by disinfectant products. Intrinsic product contamination was detected frequently, suggesting a need for stricter regulation. While BCC-related mortality was low, our systematic review revealed significant heterogeneity in both investigations and reporting of BCC outbreaks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100082
JournalInfection Prevention in Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Burkholderia cepacia
  • Disinfectant
  • Intrinsic
  • Nocosomial
  • Outbreak


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