Bartonella: emerging pathogen or emerging awareness?

Int J Infect Dis. 2009 Jan;13(1):3-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2008.04.002. Epub 2008 Jul 14.


The number of known Bartonella species is rapidly growing. Some of them are responsible for distinct infectious diseases and show different prevalence and antibiotic susceptibility profiles. Not only have some vectors of Bartonella not been fully characterized, but also intermediate hosts are actually much more numerous and diverse than previously thought. Among these, dogs differ from cats because they tend to suffer an overt disease similar to humans, thus providing the base for a useful animal indicator and research model. Among the debilitating conditions with an unclear impact on the course of these infections, specific conditions (e.g., homelessness, alcoholism) have been linked to a much higher prevalence and to high risk of unfavorable outcome. Due to the limited arsenal of antibiotics effective in vivo on this peculiar intracellular pathogen, the risk/benefit balance of antibiotic therapy is sometimes difficult to draw. In this evolving picture, the recent discoveries of new species highlights the importance of basic molecular biology resources that would bring major public health benefits if available in endemic areas, and specifically in many areas of Peru and Bolivia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bartonella / classification*
  • Bartonella / genetics
  • Bartonella / isolation & purification
  • Bartonella / pathogenicity*
  • Bartonella Infections / diagnosis
  • Bartonella Infections / drug therapy
  • Bartonella Infections / epidemiology*
  • Bartonella Infections / microbiology
  • Bolivia / epidemiology
  • Cat-Scratch Disease / diagnosis
  • Cat-Scratch Disease / drug therapy
  • Cat-Scratch Disease / epidemiology
  • Cat-Scratch Disease / microbiology
  • Cats
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / diagnosis
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / drug therapy
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / epidemiology*
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / microbiology
  • Dogs
  • Endemic Diseases
  • Humans
  • Peru / epidemiology
  • Species Specificity