Burkholderia cepacia Complex in Cystic Fibrosis: Frequency of Strain Replacement during Chronic Infection

Scott A. Bernhardt, Utah State University
Theodore Spilker
Todd Coffey
John J. LiPuma


Persons with cystic fibrosis (CF) are susceptible to chronic pulmonary infection due to certain Burkholderia species, but it is not clear whether this typically involves persistent infection with the same strain or sequential infection with distinct strains. We analyzed 1095 Burkholderiaisolates recovered from serial sputum cultures from 379 patients with CF receiving care in 112 CF treatment centers in the United States. Genotyping was performed by random amplified polymorphic DNA typing or pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Overall, a change in infecting strain was found in 24 (6.9%) of 347 patients infected with Burkholderia cepaciacomplex and in 3 (9%) of 32 patients infected with Burkholderia gladioli.Several patients were likely coinfected, at least transiently, with >1 B. cepacia complex strain. The potential for strain replacement during chronic infection may confound studies of the relationship between strain and clinical outcome and must be considered in designing effective infection-control practices.