Melioidosis Is a bacterial disease, affecting both animals and humans and is caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei, a soil bacterium mainly occurring in the tropical regions. It is common in the northern parts of Australia, and in most countries of the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. Occasionally, individual cases, or even outbreaks, of this disease appear in temperate regions too. Contamination of drinking water, caused by disruptions in the plumbing lines as a result of heavy rain and flooding, may be the reason for these sporadic incidents.
Not only dogs, but other animals like cats and even humans may get infected by the bacteria through several routes. They may enter the body through cuts and bruises on the skin or through the mouth when contaminated soil or carcasses of infected animals are ingested. Inhalation of bacteria-rich soil also can cause infection. Environment to host infections are the norm; host-host transmission is not significant. Cats and dogs that develop melioidosis may succumb to the disease, especially if they are weak.
The symptoms of melioidosis may vary depending on the organs affected. In many cases, the disease remains asymptomatic. Development of abscesses or nodules with a curd-like appearance on different organs of the body is the common characteristic, but they may appear in locations far off from the point of entry of the bacteria. When the infection is by the skin route, there may not be any evidence of the disease on the skin. Most of the affected animals, as well as humans, develop pneumonia. Melioidosis can cause lameness too. In some cases, the infection may remain dormant for a long time before symptoms appear. Severe infections, and the involvement of vital organs, may result in the death of the animal.
Melioidosis in dogs can be treated with antibiotic therapy but veterinary antibiotics may not be as effective as those meant for human use. Treatment is costly as well as prolonged. Recurrence of the symptoms is common on the discontinuation of the antibiotic therapy. The bacteria seem to suppress the immune mechanism of the host, particularly in animal species that are less prone to this disease.
In the case of Melioidosis, prevention of the bacterial infection is a more practical approach than treating the disease in the pet dogs. In places where Burkholderia pseudomallei bacteria are common, avoid exposure to soil by providing safe areas for the pet to live and sleep. Clean drinking water, that is treated or disinfected with chlorination, should be given to the dog. Prevent the dog from drinking water from puddles that form during rains. The dog should not be allowed to eat dead animals or the feces of other animals.