A step forward to establish a national research network for surveillance of melioidosis in Vietnam

About the Talk

Part of the VALIDATE 5th Annual Meeting - 13:00pm, 7 March 2023

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The first case of melioidosis in Vietnam was described nearly a century ago. Many cases were then reported among French and American soldiers during the Vietnam wars. However, after the country's independence in 1975, very few cases were detected and reported among the indigenous population. This may be because melioidosis was not described in medical textbooks and the causative agent, Burkholderia pseudomallei, was not trained for microbiological students, resulting in the disease being forgotten for several decades. In 2015, a collaborative project funded by the German and Vietnamese governments, called RENOMAB, started and established a national research network on melioidosis. The project organized workshops and hands-on training courses on the diagnosis of B. pseudomallei in clinical specimens at clinical microbiology laboratories throughout the country. Additionally, awareness of melioidosis was raised through various scientific conferences, public media, and social networks.

These efforts resulted in the detection of approximately a thousand adult and pediatric cases of melioidosis after four years, most of which were detected in provincial hospitals where cases had not been previously detected. Environmental surveillance of B. pseudomallei was also conducted in various samples, such as rice field soil, river water, and borehole water, to identify hot spot areas and potential sources of outbreaks. Despite these recent efforts, the number of detected cases is still lower than expected. This may be due to the underuse of bacterial cultures at local hospitals or the low sensitivity of culture methods. To better understand the true burden of melioidosis in the country, laboratory capacity needs to be strengthened and serological and molecular assays should be utilized.


Trinh Trung

About the Speaker

Dr Trinh Thanh Trung is the head of the Laboratory for Microbial Pathogens and director of the Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology at the Vietnam National University, Hanoi.

He received his PhD from the Friedrich Loeffler Institute for Medical Microbiology at Greifswald University in Germany, where he completed a thesis titled "Burkholderia pseudomallei in Northern Vietnam: environmental detection and molecular characterization of strains." In recent years, Trung has been actively involved in projects related to melioidosis in Vietnam, including the "Research Network on Melioidosis and Burkholderia pseudomallei - RENOMAB" project funded by Vietnam and Germany and the "Immunological tools for a seroprevalence and immune status map of melioidosis in Vietnam" project funded by Vietnam and the UK. The team's current research focuses on clinical and environmental surveillance of B. pseudomallei in Vietnam, and they raise awareness of melioidosis and teach diagnostic methods for the detection of B. pseudomallei from clinical samples through training courses and workshops at local hospitals throughout the country. They also organize national scientific conferences on the disease and held the 9th World Melioidosis Congress in Hanoi in 2019.