Pashu Sandesh, 07 May 2019

Poonam Shakya*, Anju Nayak, Joycee Jogi, Ajay Rai and Smita Bordoloi


The term Glanders has been derived from the French word glandres, meaning glands. It is an endemic disease in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Central and South America. The organism causing glanders- Burkholderia mallei has got a clear scope of bioterrorism and was believed to have been used during World War I and II on horses and humans.
Glanders is an infectious disease that is caused by the bacterium Burkholderia mallei. It is primarily a disease of horses; it also affects donkeys and mules and can be naturally contracted by other mammals such as goats, dogs and cats. The disease in equines is characterized by nodular lesions of the lungs and other organs as well as ulcerative lesions of the skin and mucous membranes of the nasal cavity and respiratory passages. Human is an accidental host and the disease usually results from occupational contact. The disease is notifiable in India under Glanders and Farcy Act 1899.

At Risk

People who are exposed to infected horses, mules and donkeys, eg: - veterinarians, horse caretakers, soldiers etc.
Laboratory personnel working with bacteria.


Contact with infected horses, donkeys and mules via their respiratory secretions and exudates from skin lesions.
Chronically or subclinically infected horses may shed the organism and becomes a constant source of infection.
Contamination of skin lesions and mucous membranes.
Ingestion of contaminated food or water, especially through contaminated meat.
Venereal transmission from stallions to mares.
Vertical transmission from the dam.
Through fomites including harnesses, grooming tools and food and water troughs.
Through flies as mechanical vectors.

Signs and Symptoms

In humans- Fever with chills and sweating, muscle aches, chest pain, muscle tightness, headache, and nasal discharge.

In animals- Following forms of the disease are found:

Nasal form (Nasal Glanders) -It is characterized by high fever, loss of appetite and laboured breathing with coughing. This is accompanied by a yellowish green, mucopurulent discharge which crusts around the nares. Nodules in the nasal mucosa may also produce ulcers.
Pulmonary form (Pulmonary Glanders) - It is characterized with fever, dyspnoea, paroxysmal coughing or a persistent dry cough accompanied by laboured breathing.
Cutaneous form (Farcy) - It is characterized by nodules with ulcers and exudation. There are swollen lymphatic vessels with cording and development of ‘farcy buds’ that enlarge ulcerate and drain.


By culturing the organism Burkholderia mallei from lesions, lymph nodes and nasal or other respiratory exudates.
By biochemical and molecular characterization of the bacteria.
Mallein test
By various serological tests such as CFT, ELISA etc.
Inoculation in lab animal (male guinea pig) - Strauss Reaction.

Differential Diagnosis
Confirmation of Glanders has to be differentially diagnosed from the following diseases:
Epizootic lymphangitis caused by Histoplasma farciminosum.
Sporotrichosis caused by Sporotrichum schenki.
Ulcerative lymphangitis caused by Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis.
Strangles caused by Streptococcus equi.
Melioidosis caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei.


The organism is susceptible to 1% sodium hypochlorite, 70% ethanol, iodine, 2% glutaraldehyde, benzalkonium chloride, potassium permanganate and mercuric chloride in alcohol. In the environment, the organism is susceptible to drying and sunlight. The bacteria can be destroyed by heating to 55°C for 10 minutes or exposure to UV rays.


Glanders has been successfully eliminated from most countries through the slaughter of animals with a positive mallein test. Quarantine of in-contact animals and pretesting of horses for movement are necessary for disease control. Early detection of positive cases along with thorough cleaning and disinfection in outbreak areas is a must. Affected animal carcasses and all disposable materials on positive premises should be burned or buried. No vaccine is available for glanders.


Poonam Shakya*, Anju Nayak, Joycee Jogi, Ajay Rai and Smita Bordoloi

Department of Veterinary Microbiology

College of Veterinary Science & A.H., NDVSU, Jabalpur (M.P.)-482001

*Corresponding Author: