What is Bartonellosis?

Bartonellosis is caused by an infection with the proteobacterium, Bartonella. Several species of Bartonella cause disease in humans. Bartonella quintana causes trench fever and is transmitted from a cat to humans, and from human to humans by a louse.  Bartonella henselae is the causative agent for Cat Scratch Disease (CSD) and has also been known to cause bacillary angiomatosis, peliosis hepatis, bacteremia, and endocarditis in immunocompromised individuals. CSD is most often transmitted to humans via a cat bite or scratch. The cat gets infected through a flea bite. In recent years it has been thought that B. henselae may also be a tick-borne pathogen and can be present in the same tick that transmits pathogens causing Lyme disease, Relapsing Fever, Babesiosis, and Ehrlichiosis. Currently some of the other Bartonella species known to cause human disease are B. elizabethae, B. washoensis,  B. vinsonii, B. koehlare, and B. alsatica.

Bartonella 8 - nice picture


Bartonella 20 - cropped


How is Bartonellosis Transmitted?

Cats and small animals listed in the table below can harbor infected fleas or ticks that carry Bartonella. Bartonella is transmitted to humans by the scratch of small animals, most often domestic or feral cats, particularly kittens. The disease occurs most frequently in children under 15. 


What Are the Infected Regions?

CSD occurs worldwide and may be present wherever cats, ground squirrel, mice, and rabbits are found.

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms usually begin between 5 to 14 days after being infected. Common symptoms are low-grade fever, enlarged tender lymph nodes (usually develop with 1-3 weeks of exposure), a papule or pustule at the inoculation site. Other symptoms include brain fog, headaches (ice pick), photophobia, tachycardia, bowel problems, OCD behavior, anxiety, rapid relapse off of antibiotics, swollen joints, psychiatric problems,and muscle pain, pain behind the eyes, and no response to previous antibiotic treatments.

How is Bartonellosis Diagnosed?

The diagnosis should be considered in patients bitten by a tick or flea or scratched by small animals and are experiencing any of the symptoms typical of Bartonella infections, even mild ones. Patients should be examined by their healthcare professional. The healthcare professional will use clinical symptoms along with laboratory tests to find out whether a patient has bartonellosis or perhaps some other tick-borne infection.

Click here on how to order a test kit from IGeneX. Test kits can be ordered by both patients and physicians. 

FOR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL:  Click here for more information on the type of diagnostic tests for Bartonella. In addition, physicians may want to consider having blood tested for other possible causes of their patient’s symptoms, including other tick-borne infections, such as Lyme disease. 

Can A Tick Be Tested?

At IGeneX, ticks can be tested for presence of Bartonella by a PCR test. Any tick, including one that has been removed from a patient or found in the yard, can be sent to IGeneX for testing. 

Click here for more information on how to test a tick.