Melioidosis is an endemic disease caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. Concerns exist regarding B. pseudomallei use as a potential bio-threat agent causing persistent infections and typically manifesting as severe pneumonia capable of causing fatal bacteremia. Development of suitable therapeutics against melioidosis is complicated due to high degree of genetic and phenotypic variability among B. pseudomallei isolates and lack of data establishing commonly accepted strains for comparative studies. Further, the impact of strain variation on virulence, disease presentation, and mortality is not well understood. Therefore, this study evaluate and compare the virulence and disease progression of B. pseudomallei strains K96243 and HBPUB10303a, following aerosol challenge in a standardized BALB/c mouse model of infection. The natural history analysis of disease progression monitored conditions such as weight, body temperature, appearance, activity, bacteremia, organ and tissue colonization (pathological and histological analysis) and immunological responses. This study provides a detailed, direct comparison of infection with different B. pseudomallei strains and set up the basis for a standardized model useful to test different medical countermeasures against Burkholderia species. Further, this protocol serves as a guideline to standardize other bacterial aerosol models of infection or to define biomarkers of infectious processes caused by other intracellular pathogens.
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