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The World in Medicine
October 20, 2004

Secrets of the “Great Mimicker”

JAMA. 2004;292(15):1810. doi:10.1001/jama.292.15.1810-b

Burkholderia pseudomallei, a soil-dwelling bacterium that causes melioidosis, has been called the “great mimicker” because its effects—including blood infection, abscesses, and lung, kidney, and heart disease—are remarkably wide-ranging, making diagnosis difficult. Now, researchers from England, Thailand, Australia, and the United States have gleaned some insight into the organism’s extraordinary adaptability through an analysis of its genome.

The group’s findings were published on September 13 in an online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (

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