Because conventional microbiological techniques lack sensitivity, bartonellosis is usually diagnosed by PCR amplification
of organism-specific DNA sequences and/or through serological testing. Recently, the development of a more sensitive isolation
approach, using BAPGM (Bartonella alpha Proteobacteria growth medium), followed by real-time PCR, has greatly facilitated the molecular detection or isolation
of Bartonella species from the blood of sick or healthy animals, including humans. Obviously, the relative sensitivity of the diagnostic
methods used to detect Bartonella species infection greatly influences an investigator's ability to establish disease causation. The use of recently optimized
microbiological techniques has facilitated the recognition of blood-borne Bartonella spp. infections in dogs, horses, humans and porpoises in our laboratory.
Based on the annual increase in publications related to Bartonella infections in animals and people during the past decade, it is obvious that members of this genus are gaining increased international
scrutiny by the medical and scientific communities. When examining data generated in specific populations of naturally exposed
healthy or sick animals, it is important to recognize the exceptional evolutionary adaptation of these micro-organisms, which
are able to induce persistent blood-borne infections in both animals and people. This adaptation complicates efforts to define
causation in association with intravascular Bartonella infection.
Animals function as a blood reservoir for various Bartonella species, a process that facilitates a continued transmission cycle via arthropod, animal bites or scratches. Animal contact,
which in many instances occurs to a wide spectrum of domestic and wild-animal species, is an obvious consequence of the daily
activities of veterinarians, veterinary technicians, animal-health researchers, ranchers, wildlife biologists and many other
individuals in our society. During the past year, B. henselae or B. vinsonii (berkhoffii) infection in blood samples from people with extensive arthropod and animal contact has been documented. The potential clinical
relevance of detecting Bartonella species in the blood of people with occupational animal contact is yet to be determined.
Despite frequent occupational exposure to animals, it is important to acknowledge that most veterinary professionals, ranchers
and wildlife biologists participate in a diversity of outdoor recreational and occupational activities that also increase
the opportunity for Bartonella transmission by biting arthropods.
Veterinarians are responsible for the medical care and general well-being of all animal species on this planet, except for
Homo sapiens. In regard to zoonotic disease transmission, veterinarians play a pivotal role in the public health infrastructure
of the United States. Additional prospective studies are necessary to characterize the risk of human Bartonella infection following a cat or dog bite and whether these infections are always self-limiting.
Although part of the natural evolutionary history of Bartonella and mammals, the legal implications of Bartonella transmission from pets to people in our society may create complications as well as opportunities for the veterinary profession.
Johnny D. Hoskins
Bartonella spp. antigen recognition patterns in cats with and without fever.
M.R. Lappin; J.R. Hawley; E.B. Breitschwerdt. (Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO; North Carolina State University,
Bartonella spp. infections are common in cats. Some cats with Bartonella spp. DNA in blood or antibodies in serum are clinically ill and have fever leading to the hypothesis that the organisms may be
associated with fever of unknown origin. In addition, it has been hypothesized that western blot immunoassay (WB) results
can be used to predict Bartonella spp. bacteremia.
The objective of this study was to use WB to determine whether Bartonella spp. antigen recognition patterns exist that correlate to the presence of fever or presence of Bartonella spp. DNA in blood.