Systematic review of ultrasound gel associated Burkholderia cepacia complex outbreaks: Clinical presentation, sources and control of outbreak

Published:February 11, 2022DOI:


      • Members of Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) are opportunistic Gram-negative bacteria.
      • Bcc are intrinsically resistant to many disinfectants and antibiotics and are stable in the hospital environment and solutions like chlorhexidine and ultrasound (USG) gels.
      • The main source of the infection by Bcc were due to USG guided central line insertion and during urological examinations.
      • Identification of the source of outbreak and implementation of appropriate infection prevention and control (IPC) responses are the most important steps for outbreak control.


      Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) is an emerging opportunistic pathogen among immunocompromised patients. It frequently contaminates saline, fluids and ultrasound (US) gel used in hospitals. This systematic review was conducted to analyze Bcc outbreaks due to ultrasound (US) gel for better management of these outbreaks.


      As per PRISMA guidelines, electronic databases “Embase” and “Pubmed” and “Web of sciences” were searched from 1991 to April, 2021 to identify studies causing Burkholderia spp outbreak due to contamination of US gels.


      The search identified 14 outbreak reports that met our inclusion criteria. Bacteremia was the most common clinical presentation in ten studies followed by urinary tract infections in 4 studies. In most of the studies B. cepacia was the most common isolated organism. Other members like B. ambifaria, B. contaminans, and B. stabilis caused outbreaks in two studies. Pulsed field gel electrophoresis and multilocus sequence typing were commonly employed methods to study the clonal association. In 8 outbreaks, intrinsic contamination of the gel, that is, contamination from manufacturing site, was present and 4 studies, extrinsic contamination, that is, contamination from environment was responsible for outbreak.


      This review highlights the importance of US gel as a source of outbreak in health-care facilities. Ensuring sterility of US gel, sound epidemiological investigation of outbreak and prompt response by infection control team can prevent these outbreaks.

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