What is Glanders Disease?

By | 13 May 2021

Glanders disease is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria of Burkholderia Mallei. Although it can infect humans, it is mostly seen in equine-hoofed animals such as horses and donkeys. Germ disease was first described by Aristotle in the 3rd century, its contagious feature was found in 1664, and it was reported to be transmitted from animals in 1830. In 1891, the mullein test was defined. Control programs started to be implemented in the 1900s.

What is Germ disease?

Germ disease is actually a zoonosis, that is, it is a disease seen in animals. It occurs in equine-hoofed animals such as horses, donkeys, and mules. A chronic disease form is observed in horses and an acute disease form in donkeys. Sheep, goats, dogs, and cats can become infected if they come into contact with infected animals or eat infected animal meat. Germ disease is not seen in cattle and pigs.

The bacterium named Burkholderia Mallei, which causes the glandular disease is a still, club-shaped bacterium that stains negatively with Gram staining. It may also be referred to as Pseudomonas mallei, Malleomyces mallei, or Actinomyces mallei. It is an aerobic (breeding in an oxygenated) bacteria that forms a yellow S-type colony. This bacterium can survive for months in humid, cold, and dark environments, and its incubation period is 1 week.

Diseases such as typhoid, tuberculosis, syphilis, anthrax, erysipelas, lymphangitis are included in the differential diagnosis of glandular disease.

What are the causes of gross disease?

It is suspected of being used as a biological agent to weaken Russian horses after the First World War. During the First World War, a high proportion of people with glamorizing was reported in Russia. It was observed in Japanese horses and soldiers during the Second World War. Therefore, it is thought to be used as a biological weapon. This disease is endemic in some parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Sporadic cases have also been reported in South and Central America. It has not been watched in America since 1940. The root of the glanders disease, which spread all over the world like a pandemic for a period, has been eradicated with appropriate testing and treatment methods.

Transmission in animals; It happens through the digestive tract when skin rashes or mucous discharge of infected animals enter the food trough or drinking water. It can also be monitored by inhalation or by direct contact with infected tissues.

Contagion to human beings; It may occur if there is an incision or abrasion on the skin after direct contact with the sick animal or by inhalation. It is not thought to be transmitted to humans through the digestive system. Although human-to-human transmission is rare, it can occur through direct transmission in medical sector employees or autopsies or through shared sharing within the same household. Particularly at risk are veterinarians, trainers or drivers, laboratory workers, butchers, and slaughterhouse workers.

What are the symptoms of glanders disease?

In horses, it usually manifests as a runny nose and ulcerated lesions on the nose. Typically there is a yellow-green discharge. Nodules (hard swelling) can be seen on the skin, especially in the arms and legs. In some cases, these nodules may burst and leave ulcerated lesions with yellow exudates on the skin.

Symptoms of glandular disease are fever, muscle aches, chest pain, muscle spasm, headache, runny nose, and sometimes light sensitivity that occurs with excessive tearing of the eyes, which usually comes with chills and chills. However, the symptoms felt usually appear according to the type of infection that occurs.

What are the types of glanders disease?

Infection in glandular disease can be seen in 4 ways:

If there is an incision or scratch on the skin, within one to five days after the bacteria enters the body, an ulcerated lesion develops at the location where the bacteria entered. Swelling and pain can be observed in the lymph nodes. Infections in mucosal membranes such as the eyes, nose, and respiratory tract may cause increased mucus secretion. Spread to other parts of the body can be observed within 1-4 weeks after this infection.

Germ disease often manifests itself only as a lung infection. Among the lung infections, pneumonia, lung abscess, or pleural effusion can be seen as a result of fluid accumulation between the two leaves of the membrane covering the lung. When a chest X-ray is taken, localized insulation foci can be seen in the lungs.

Septicemia means the development of systemic disease when an infectious agent enters the body and enters the bloodstream. It is also known as blood poisoning among people. If left untreated, Ruam septicemia results in death within 7-10 days.

The chronic form of glandular disease is seen as multiple abscesses in the muscles or on the skin in the arms and legs. These multiple abscesses can also involve the liver, spleen, and lungs.

How is Glanders Disease diagnosed?

The diagnosis of glandular disease is made by monitoring the bacteria in swabs made from skin lesions, urine, saliva, or blood in Gram staining. In Gram staining, bacilli are classically seen as a safety pin. This is diagnostic for glanders disease. Apart from gram staining, agglutination tests are also performed. Agglutination tests become positive within 7-10 days. Sometimes false positivity can be seen. Complement fixation tests are more specific than agglutination tests. A positive 1:20 titer is diagnostic. These tests are requested by infectious disease specialists. In addition, bilateral bronchopneumonia (pneumonia), miliary nodules, and cavitary lesions can be observed in lung radiographs.

In animals, the diagnosis is made by direct isolation from blood, urine, or discharge or by the Mallein test. Mullein is injected into the animal’s eyelid or conjunctiva. If there is swelling within 1-2 days, it is diagnostic. Apart from this, indirect hemagglutination, complement fixation, or ELISA tests are applied in animals. Among these tests, the highest and reliable diagnosis rates are provided by complement fixation and ELISA tests.

What are the treatment methods for Germ Disease?

Antibiotic treatment can be applied in animals; however, as the possibility of contamination to other animals or humans is very high, sick animals should be destroyed. In humans, treatment is with antibiotics. Due to its rare occurrence, a definitive therapeutic anti-biotherapy regimen has not been determined. There are human and animal studies showing that the sulphadiazine group is effective. Apart from this, antibiotics such as tetracycline, ciprofloxacin, streptomycin, novobiocin, gentamicin, imipenem, ceftazidime, sulfonamide can be used. Antibiotherapy should be kept long. Treatment regimens are ranging from 1 to 12 months in which several antibiotic agents are used together. If abscess development is present in the nodules, drainage of the abscess is recommended.

How is Glanders Disease prevented?

Today, there is no vaccine developed against this disease. Animals with glandular disease, that is, infected animals should be destroyed immediately. Just killing sick animals will not be enough. Materials, food, and water containers that animals come into contact with should be disposed of properly. Other animals that are thought to be exposed to sick animals should be quarantined and followed closely. Hygiene methods should be taken urgently and the spread of the disease should be prevented in the farms where the animals with the disease are found. Animal owners should be informed about the disease and its symptoms, and veterinarians should be contacted immediately in case of possible signs of illness. Germ disease is on the list of notifiable diseases. Since it is a disease threatening public health, it is vital that it is notified urgently and that necessary measures are taken at the site.

Grass disease is a disease that is still seen in our country. Considering that when the bacteria settle in the blood and causes septicemia, the mortality rate is 90-95%, if you suspect the symptoms of Glanders disease so that the diagnosis can be made as soon as possible and treatment can be started, do not neglect to consult an Infectious Diseases Specialist for your tests.


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