Bartonella henselae is a gram-negative bacterium that can cause cat-scratch disease (bartonellosis). Bartonella is an intracellular parasite that’s capable of infecting red blood cells, macrophages and endothelial cells.
The disease is transmitted through fleas, animal bites and scratches, as well as via Ixodes (deer/black-legged) ticks.
A week after an individual is exposed to the bacterium a papule forms at the site of transmission (bite/scratch area), which then develops into a pustule. In immunocompetent individuals, the disease is usually limited to regional adenopathy (swollen lymph nodes). The following symptoms are experienced by immunocompromised individuals:
Loss of appetite
Swollen glands around head, neck and arms
Enlarged lymph nodes
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms are not specific to the disease; therefore, laboratory confirmation is required to identify bartonellosis. Infectolab Americas Bartonella Spot helps to monitor the antigen specific T-cell activity. These cells are part of the adaptive immune system; tracking their immune response gives a clear picture of the stage of the disease as well as providing the tools necessary to assess the success of any treatment.
The disease usually goes away without any treatment, although some patients may develop complications and require antibiotic treatment. Several antibiotics are effective in treating a bartonella infection, including azithromycin, penicillin, tetracyclines and aminoglycosides.