Marcus A. Horwitz

MIMG Faculty member Dr. Marcus Hortwitz shares that to date, there are no licensed vaccines against the bacterium, called Burkholderia pseudomallei, which is spread through contact with contaminated soil and water through inhalation, ingestion, or broken skin. This particular agent is so hazardous that it is classified as a Tier 1 Select Agent of bioterrorism. Even in low doses, it can cause pneumonia that is fatal at a rapid rate if inhaled. If it were to be aerosolized and used in a terror attack, it could result in extensive casualties.

“A safe and effective vaccine is needed to prevent this disease as melioidosis is often difficult to diagnose, requires very lengthy treatment lasting three to six months, and has a high fatality rate even in high resource settings,” Horwitz said. “Such a vaccine would be of great benefit to people living in endemic regions, travelers, and military personnel stationed in these areas, and it would also reduce the risk from an intentional release of B. pseudomallei in a bioterrorist attack.”

For more information, visit the UCLA Health article.