CDC Warns of Multistate Outbreak of Burkholderia cepacia Infection

Cases Tied to Liquid Docusate Products in One State

June 27, 2016 02:31 pm News Staff

The CDC and the FDA have joined forces with multiple state and local health departments, as well as numerous health care facilities, to investigate a multistate outbreak of Burkholderia cepacia infections.( These infections have occurred primarily in ventilated patients who do not have cystic fibrosis who are being treated in hospital ICUs.

Scanning electron micrograph of Burkholderia cepacia

Preliminary reports indicate that a contaminated liquid docusate product may be related to cases in one state involved in the outbreak. Until more information is available, CDC officials are recommending that health care facilities not use any liquid docusate products for patients who are critically ill, ventilated or immunosuppressed. Institutions housing patients with B. cepacia infection who do not have cystic fibrosis should sequester all liquid docusate products.

B. cepacia is a gram-negative bacterium found in soil and moist environments that is known to cause various types of infections, including catheter-associated infections and respiratory tract infections, in hospitalized patients. Although healthy individuals are not affected in most cases, those who are immunocompromised are at particular risk, as are patients with chronic respiratory illnesses, especially those with cystic fibrosis.

Infections caused by B. cepacia often are resistant to multiple antibiotics and can be life-threatening. In light of the organism's high level of transmissibility, health care facilities should apply stringent infection control measures in the presence of infection.

During the current outbreak, the CDC cautions that health care professionals and laboratories should be vigilant for B. cepacia cases occurring among patients who do not have cystic fibrosis and should inform infection prevention staff when these infections occur. Such cases also should be reported to state and/or local public health authorities.

As part of its ongoing investigation, the CDC is attempting to identify hospitals that have detected clusters of B. cepacia cases among pediatric or adult ICU patients, particularly since January 2016. To report such a cluster, clinicians are asked to contact the agency's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion via email.

CDC officials plan to update this announcement later this week.

Additional Resources
CDC: Burkholderia cepacia in Healthcare Settings(

African Journal of Microbiology Research: Outbreak of Burkholderia cepacia complex associated with contaminated liquid soap for hospital use: A case study(
(June 14, 2016)

Reviews in Medical Microbiology: Burkholderia cepacia pseudobacteremia traced to contaminated antiseptic used for skin antisepsis prior to blood collection(
(June 3, 2016)