Bartonella quintana Bacteremia among Homeless People

Clin Infect Dis. 2002 Sep 15;35(6):684-9. doi: 10.1086/342065. Epub 2002 Aug 20.


Bartonella quintana infections have recently reemerged, predominantly among the homeless populations in cities in both Europe and the United States. B. quintana can cause trench fever, endocarditis, and chronic bacteremia; the human body louse is the only known vector. Homeless people who presented to the emergency departments of University Hospital in Marseilles, France, were studied, as were those who had been admitted to other medical facilities in the city since 1 January 1997. Samples of blood and body lice were collected for culture for B. quintana and for serological testing. Bartonella bacteremia was associated with sweats, evidence of louse infestation, serological tests that were positive for B. quintana, and high titers of B. quintana antibody. Bacteremia was also associated with being homeless for <3 years. Asymptomatic, prolonged bacteremia (duration, up to 78 weeks) and intermittent bacteremia were found to occur. Data obtained regarding antibiotic regimens showed that treatment with gentamicin and doxycycline was effective in preventing relapses of bacteremia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteremia / epidemiology*
  • Bacteremia / microbiology
  • Bartonella quintana*
  • Homeless Persons*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Trench Fever / epidemiology*
  • Trench Fever / microbiology