Novel Zoonotic Bartonellosis

BartonellosisThe CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal reports the finding of novel zoonotic species of Bartonella, the organism responsible for several chronic infectious diseases in man. This adds to the increasing awareness and growing evidence that there is more than what meets the eye when it comes to understanding the zoonotic potential and pathogen emergence as more and more microbes, traditionally thought to be disease causing in animals, are easily jumping across the species barriers to affect man.

Bartonella spp have been implicated in a number of human diseases, like:

Cat Scratch Disease: Bartonella henselae

Carrion’s Disease or Verruga Peruana: Bartonella bacilliformis

Trench Fever: Bartonella quintana

Infectious Endocarditis: Bartonella quintana, Bartonella henselae

Bacillary Angiomatosis: Bartonella quintana, Bartonella henselae

Hepatic Peliosis: Bartonella henselae

Traditionally, Bartonella spp have been known to infect closely related hosts and not making the species jump as such; non-reservoir hosts were more likely to be accidentally inoculated and usually became dead end hosts for the bacteria. A recent article in the CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal (1) has identified potentially zoonotic, novel species of the agent. The abstract reads:

Certain Bartonella species are known to cause afebrile bacteremia in humans and other mammals, including B. quintana, the agent of trench fever, and B. henselae, the agent of cat scratch disease. Reports have indicated that animal-associated Bartonella species may cause paucisymptomatic bacteremia and endocarditis in humans. We identified potentially zoonotic strains from 6 Bartonella species in samples from patients who had chronic, subjective symptoms and who reported tick bites. Three strains were B. henselae and 3 were from other animal-associated Bartonella spp. (B. doshiae, B. schoenbuchensis, and B. tribocorum). Genomic analysis of the isolated strains revealed differences from previously sequenced Bartonella strains. Our investigation identified 3 novel Bartonella spp. strains with human pathogenic potential and showed that Bartonella spp. may be the cause of undifferentiated chronic illness in humans who have been bitten by ticks.

Although this is based on a few select cases, there needs to be a high index of clinical suspicion for patients with poorly qualified, chronic illnesses who present with symptoms suggestive of bartonellosis and exhibit a history of outdoor activities consistent with exposure to ticks.


1. Vayssier-Taussat M, Moutailler S, Féménia F, Raymond P, Croce O, La Scola B, et al. Identification of novel zoonotic activity of Bartonella spp., France. Emerg Infect Dis. 2015 Mar [Cited on 27th February, 2016]. DOI: 10.3201/eid2203.150269


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