Historically, Bartonella spp. have been associated with febrile illness (Oroya fever, trench fever, and cat scratch disease), endocarditis (numerous Bartonella spp.), and vasoproliferative lesions (Bartonella bacilliformis, Bartonella quintana, Bartonella henselae, and Bartonella vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii), occurring most often but not exclusively in immunocompromised patients. Recently, bloodstream infections with various Bartonella spp. have been documented in nonimmunocompromised individuals in association with a spectrum of cardiovascular, neurologic, and rheumatologic symptoms. As documented in this family, symptoms for which the medical implications remain unclear can occur in multiple family members infected with one or more Bartonella spp. Serial serologic and molecular microbiological findings supported exposure to or infection with Bartonella spp. in all seven family members. Either antibiotics failed to eliminate bacteremic infection, resulted in partial resolution of symptoms, or potentially reinfection occurred during the 19-month study period. There is a substantial need for clinical research to clarify the extent to which Bartonella spp. bacteremia induces nonspecific cardiovascular, neurologic, or rheumatologic symptoms, for ongoing improvement in the sensitivity and specificity of diagnostic testing, and clarification as to if, when, and how to treat patients with documented Bartonella spp. bacteremia.
Keywords: bacteria; family; infection; transmission; vectors.