Glanders is a contagious, acute or chronic, usually fatal anthropo zoonotic disease of Equidae caused by Burkholderia mallei and characterized by serial development of ulcerating nodules that are most commonly found in the upper respiratory tract, lungs, and skin. The first recorded description of glanders is from the third century from Aristotle. In 1664, glanders was recognized as a contagious disease and in 1830, it's zoonotic potential was suspected. In the late 1800's, the Mallein test (1891) was developed for diagnosis of glanders. By 1910, the U.S., Canada and Great Britain all implemented glanders controlprograms. B. mallei was eradicated from the United States in 1929.
Etiology: It is caused by Burkholderia mallei. It is a straight or slightly bent Gm - non-spore forming, non-motile rod. The organisms in old culture appear as pleomorphic. The organisms can grow in ordinary media but addition of defribinated horse blood or glycerol accelerate the growth. Colonies have hop like odour and slime consistency. The organisms are readily destroyed by direct sunlight and most of the disinfectants. They can survive for 20 days in water and 6 weeks in contaminated stable. This organism is closely related to the agent of melioidosis, Burkholderia pseudomallei.
Susceptible hosts: The most susceptible hosts are horses, mules and donkeys. Infections can also occur in dogs, cats, goats and camels; cats may be particularly susceptible. Hamsters and guinea pigs can be infected in the laboratory. It is an occupational /professional hazard to human being. Laboratory samples are highly infectious to humans. Infection have been observed in sheep and goats. Guinea pigs, rabbits and field mice may be infected fatally. Cattle and pigs are absolutely resistant.
Geographic Distribution: Glanders is seen in some Middle Eastern countries, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, parts of China and Mongolia, and Africa. Sporadic cases are also seen in South America. Sporadic cases of glanders were identified between 1985-86 to 1990-91 from the states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. Since reemergence of glanders in July - August 2006 in and around Pune and Panchgani area of Maharastra, several cases have been reported among equines of different states viz., Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab. During the year 2006-07, National Research Centre on Equines, Hissar tested 4395 samples and 97 were detected positive and B. mallei was isolated from 8 of these cases.