Leila Cruikshank

Why is infection control important with Burkholderia cepacia complex?

Many bacteria seen in people with CF can be transferred from one person to another. For example, Pseudomonas can be picked up from another person with CF. So infection control is always important!

Prevention of cross infection between people with CF with BCC is especially important due to the following findings:

- BCC can be present in your lungs for a period of time before we can detect it on sputum culture. It can take several months, or up to 2 years in some people, before BCC shows up in the sputum. During this time you can spread it to another person with CF without knowing. BCC is naturally resistant and hard to kill with most antibiotics.

- BCC is linked with poor health in people with CF but it can affect each person differently. Some people do not seem to get more unwell if they have BCC, some people may have a slow and gradual decrease in lung function over time while others may have a rapid decrease in lung function. Some species may be more likely to make people sick than others.

- BCC can cause "cepacia syndrome" which is a severe lung infection with a high fever, difficulty breathing, specific changes on chest xray and a very high white blood count. Cepacia syndrome is often fatal.

- At some hospitals, persons with BCC are less likely to be considered for lung transplantation than people who do not have BCC. This is not the case in Toronto as the Toronto lung transplant program accepts people with CF who have infection with BCC. However, the outcome (survival) after lung transplant is not as good for someone who grows BCC compared with someone who does not. Speak with your CF team and lung transplantation team about more information on this topic.