If we’ve learned nothing else since February or March of 2020, we’ve learned that emerging infectious diseases are a real threat to human health globally. In a bad news/good news kind of way, Bartonellosis is an emerging infectious disease; however, it’s not spread by airborne droplets or respiration.
But if any of your family pets bring a flea or tick into the house, or if you live in proximity to mice, rats, ground squirrels, rabbits, sheep, horses or cattle–you could be at risk.
Bartonella sp. is a Gram negative, rod-shaped bacteria that has been around since ancient times. It’s the bacteria responsible for cat scratch disease (1) and for Trench fever (2), which affected soldiers during WWs I and II, and affects people living in over-crowded, unsanitary conditions around the world today.
Bartonella sp. are known to be spread by vectors such as fleas, which are part of the transmission cycle for cat scratch disease and the human body louse, the vector for transmission of Trench fever (3).
This animal-to-human transmission of Bartonella sp. classifies it as a zoonosis.
Infection due to Bartonella sp. often appear to be self-limiting, such as swelling in regional lymph nodes due to a cat scratch disease. In such cases, symptoms can subside without intervention. But Bartonella sp. have a nasty habit of hiding in red blood cells and in cells lining blood vessels, where they can remain undetected for a substantial period of time. This hiding place affects a host’s ability to mount an immune response, as well as affecting the ability of antibiotics to attack the bacteria.Continue reading “Bartonella sp. and Your Cat (or Dog, Horse, Rat): An Emerging Infectious Disease”