What Is Glanders?

Glanders is an infectious zoonotic disease, which appears mostly in mules, horses, and donkeys. It can be contracted by humans and other animals like cats, dogs, and goats. Glanders is influenced by an infection known as the bacterium Burkholderia Mallei.

Glanders is primitive in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Central, and South America. It has been eliminated from Australia, North America, and most of Europe via the management and extermination of infected animals and import limitations.

It has not been recorded in the United States since 1945, except in 2000, when an American lab researcher suffered from unexpected exposure.

How can glanders be transmitted?

An infection called the bacterium Burkholderia mallei induces glanders usually by ingestion of polluted water or feed. The bacteria that incite glanders are transferred to humans through random touching of tissues or body fluids of diseased animals.

The bacteria infiltrate the body via cuts on the skin and mucosal surfaces like the nose and eyes. It may also be breathed through contaminated aerosols or dust polluted by sick animals.

Erratic cases have been reported in horse caretakers, veterinarians, and laboratorians. However, no evidence of human-to-human glanders transmission has been recorded.

Symptoms attributed to glanders

Signs of glanders generally include:

  • Fever together with colds and sweating
  • Muscle pains
  • Headache
  • Chest ache
  • Muscle tightness
  • Nasal discharge
  • Light sensitivity; occasionally comes with unnecessary tearing of the eyes

The specific symptoms encountered will differ based on the kind of infection. The four types of diseases, as well as the warnings attributed to each, are as follows:

Localized infection

If there is a scratch on the skin, localized infection, with ulceration, may develop between 1-5 days in the area where the bacteria came into the body. Lymph swellings may also be evident.

Diseases associated with the mucous layers in the nose, eyes, and respiratory zone will result in high mucus generation from the affected regions. Transmission to distant locations in the body may exist within 1-4 weeks after the infection.

Pulmonary disease

Glanders continually manifests itself as pulmonary disease. Pulmonary inflammation, pneumonia, and pleural effusion can occur in this case.

Bloodstream disease

With the absence of medication, glanders bloodstream infections are typically deadly within 7 to 10 days.

Chronic infection

The persistent form of glanders encompasses much inflammation within the muscles, skin, lungs, liver, and spleen.

Implications of being exposed to glanders

There has been no report of any occurring issues of glanders in the United States since the 1940s. Nevertheless, there is periodic news of glanders in some regions around the world, and some of the countries that are mostly affected include:

  • Asia
  • Africa
  • South America
  • Central America
  • The Middle East

Additionally, individuals who care for sick animals or handle contaminated samples may also be confronted with a high risk of infection. Such people include:

  • Horse Caretakers
  • Equine Butchers
  • Laboratorians
  • Veterinarians
  • Abattoir Workers

Treating glanders

Considering that human cases of glanders are unusual, there is little knowledge about antibiotic medication in humans. However, Sulfadiazine is known to be active in testing animals and humans.

The bacterium that results in glanders is generally vulnerable to:

  • Ceftazidime
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Tetracyclines
  • Sulfonamides
  • Novobiocin
  • Imipenem
  • Streptomycin
  • Gentamicin

Preventing glanders

Nowadays, there is no vaccine for glanders. In nations where glanders is rampant in animals, the prevention of the disease in humans includes the identification and eradication of the disease in the animal community.

Amidst the health care environment, communication of glanders can be curbed by utilizing standard airborne precautions.


The disease is analyzed in the laboratory by separating Burkholderia mallei from blood, urine,sputum, or skin injury.  Serologic examinations are not accessible.Glanders proceeds to be incredibly rare in humans.

In 2000, one case emerged in a research laboratory employee in the U.S. after incidental exposure. While no federal or state management exists, the case-casualty rate can become up to 50% using the conventional antibiotic procedure.

However, vulnerability data propose that modern antibiotics should be more efficient. The new conclusions also reveal that the mortality rate for localized infection can be as low as 20% with proper treatment, and the total mortality rate can be up to 40%.


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