What is Bartonellosis?

Bartonellosis is a type of bacterial infection caused by bacteria from the genus Bartonella. Bartonella bacteria can infect many mammals, including humans, cats, dogs, and cattle, and can cause a variety of diseases, including cat scratch disease, Carrión's disease, and Oroya fever.

Cat scratch disease is the most common Bartonellosis infection in humans and is caused by the bacterium Bartonella henselae. This disease is most often transmitted through the scratch or bite of a cat, though it can also be spread through contact with contaminated fluids from an infected cat.

Carrión's disease is caused by the bacteria Bartonella bacilliformis and is usually acquired through the bite of a sandfly. Once infected, the bacteria penetrate the skin and spread throughout the body, causing an often fatal bacterial infection.

Oroya fever, also known as verruga peruana, is a rare and often fatal disease caused by the bacteria Bartonella bacilliformis. It is primarily seen in rural areas of Peru and is usually spread through the bite of a sandfly.

Signs and Symptoms of Bartonellosis

The signs and symptoms of Bartonellosis can vary widely, depending on the type of infection and the severity of the infection. Common symptoms include fever, headache, chills, fatigue, and an enlarged lymph node near the site of the infection. Other symptoms may include skin rash, muscle and joint pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and enlargement of the spleen and liver.

Diagnosis of Bartonellosis

A doctor may suspect a Bartonellosis infection based on a physical examination and patient history. Diagnosis of Bartonellosis is usually confirmed through laboratory tests, such as blood tests and bacterial culture. In some cases, further tests may be necessary, such as tissue biopsies.

Treatment of Bartonellosis

Treatment of Bartonellosis depends on the type of infection and the severity of the infection. Treatment may include a combination of antibiotics, such as doxycycline, rifampin, and gentamicin. For more severe infections, supportive care may also be necessary to help manage symptoms and prevent complications.

Prevention of Bartonellosis

The best way to prevent a Bartonellosis infection is to avoid contact with infected cats, cats with fleas, or the fluids of infected animals. Wear long sleeves, pants, and gloves when handling cats, and always wash your hands after handling cats or their fluids. Additionally, use insect repellent when outdoors. Insect repellents containing DEET can help prevent sandfly bites.

Complications of Bartonellosis

Complications of Bartonellosis can include:

  • Organ damage or failure, such as liver damage or heart failure
  • Spread of the infection to other parts of the body
  • Recurrent infections
  • Death, in severe cases