Classification and external resources
ICD-10 A24.0
ICD-9 024
DiseasesDB 5222
eMedicine emerg/884
MeSH D005896

Glanders (from Middle English glaundres or Old French glandres, both meaning glands)[1] (Latin: Malleus German: Rotz) (also known as "Equinia," "Farcy," and "Malleus"[2]:282) is an infectious disease that occurs primarily in horses, mules, and donkeys. It can be contracted by other animals such as dogs, cats and goats. It is caused by infection with the bacterium Burkholderia mallei, usually by ingestion of contaminated food or water. Symptoms of glanders include the formation of nodular lesions in the lungs and ulceration of the mucous membranes in the upper respiratory tract. The acute form results in coughing, fever and the release of an infectious nasal discharge, followed by septicaemia and death within days. In the chronic form, nasal and subcutaneous nodules develop, eventually ulcerating. Death can occur within months, while survivors act as carriers.

Glanders is endemic in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Central and South America. It has been eradicated from North America, Australia and most of Europe through surveillance and destruction of affected animals, and import restrictions.

Burkholderia mallei is able to infect humans and is therefore classed as a zoonotic agent. Transmission occurs by direct contact with infected animals and entry is through skin abrasions, nasal and oral mucosal surfaces, or by inhalation.

The mallein test is a sensitive and specific clinical test for glanders. Mallein (ATCvet code: QI05AR01), a protein fraction of the glanders organism (Burkholderia mallei), is injected intradermo-palpebrally or given by eye-drop. In infected animals, the eyelid swells markedly in 1 or 2 days.

Biological warfare use

Due to the high mortality rate in humans and the small number of organisms required to establish infection, Burkholderia mallei is regarded as a potential biological warfare (BW) or bioterrorism agent, as is the closely related organism, Burkholderia pseudomallei, the causative agent of melioidosis. During World War I, Glanders was believed to have been spread deliberately by German agents to infect large numbers of Russian horses and mules on the Eastern Front.[3] Other agents attempted to introduce the disease in the United States and Argentina. This had an effect on troop and supply convoys as well as on artillery movement, which were dependent on horses and mules. Human cases in Russia increased with the infections during and after WWI. The Japanese deliberately infected horses, civilians, and prisoners of war with B. mallei at the Pinfang (China) Institute during World War II.

The U.S. studied this agent as a possible BW weapon in 1943–44 but did not weaponize it. U.S. interest in Glanders (Agent LA) continued through the 1950s, except it had an inexplicable tendency to lose virulence in the lab, making it difficult to weaponize. The Soviet Union is also believed to have been interested in B. mallei as a potential BW agent after World War II.


  1. ^ "glanders". American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000. Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  2. ^ James, William D.; Berger, Timothy G.; et al. (2006). Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: clinical Dermatology. Saunders Elsevier. ISBN 0-7216-2921-0. 
  3. ^ Woods, Lt. Col. Jon B. (ed.) (April 2005). USAMRIID’s Medical Management of Biological Casualties Handbook (6th ed. ed.). U.S. Army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, Maryland. pp. 67. .

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Glanders — Glan ders, n. [From {Gland}.] (Far.) A highly contagious and very destructive disease of horses, asses, mules, etc., characterized by a constant discharge of sticky matter from the nose, and an enlargement and induration of the glands beneath and …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • glanders — horse disease characterized by glandular swelling, early 15c., from O.Fr. glandres swollen glands, pl. of glandre, from L. glandula (see GLAND (Cf. gland)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • glanders — [glan′dərz] n. [OFr glandres < L glandulae, swollen glands in the neck, pl. of glandula: see GLAND1] a contagious, chronic or acute disease of horses, mules, etc. characterized by fever, swollen lymph nodes, ulcerous nodules on the skin,… …   English World dictionary

  • glanders — glanderous, adj. /glan deuhrz/, n. (used with a sing. v.) Vet. Pathol. a contagious disease chiefly of horses and mules but communicable to humans, caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas mallei and characterized by swellings beneath the jaw and a… …   Universalium

  • Glanders — Apparently recorded in the surviving registers of England since the 18th century and in the spellings of Gland, Glander, Glanders, Glendor, Glend, Glind and Glinds, we believe that the origin may be Anglo Saxon. The surname would seem to… …   Surnames reference

  • glanders pneumonia — pneumonia associated with glanders, characterized by caseous or calcified granules and pulmonary consolidation; seen in both humans and horses. Called also p. malleosa …   Medical dictionary

  • glanders — noun plural but singular or plural in construction Etymology: Middle French glandre glandular swelling on the neck, from Latin glandulae, from plural of glandula, diminutive of gland , glans Date: 1523 a contagious and destructive disease… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • glanders — noun An infectious disease of horses, mules and donkeys caused by the bacterium Burkholderia, one species of which may be transmitted to humans …   Wiktionary

  • glanders — A chronic debilitating disease of horses and other equids, as well as some members of the cat family, caused by Pseudomonas mallei and transmissible to humans. It attacks the mucous membranes of the nostrils of the horse, producing an increased… …   Medical dictionary

  • glanders — glan·ders || glændÉ™(r)z n. infectious disease of horses and mules …   English contemporary dictionary

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