Syndrome of Rochalimaea henselae adenitis suggesting cat scratch disease

Ann Intern Med. 1993 Mar 1;118(5):331-6. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-118-5-199303010-00002.


Objective: To describe a clinical syndrome of cat scratch disease caused by Rochalimaea henselae, including methods for isolation of the organism from tissue and for identification.

Design: Case series.

Setting: U.S. Air Force referral hospital infectious diseases clinic.

Patients: Two previously healthy patients.

Main measurements and results: Two immunocompetent patients who had handled cats developed unilateral upper-extremity adenitis associated with a distal papular lesion and fever. The adenitis and distal lesions persisted and progressively worsened. Cultures of the involved lymph nodes from both patients grew R. henselae, a recently described organism associated with bacillary angiomatosis and peliosis hepatis in human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients and with bacteremia in immunocompromised and immunocompetent hosts. The organism was characterized as oxidase negative and X-factor dependent and had a characteristic pattern in analysis of whole-cell fatty acids differing from Afipia felis, a bacterium that has been associated with cat scratch disease. The identity of the isolate was confirmed by analysis of whole-cell fatty acids using gas chromatography and by amplification of the citrate synthetase gene sequence and analysis of the polymerase chain reaction-amplified product. The organisms were broadly susceptible to a variety of antimicrobials by broth microdilution; however in-vitro resistance to first-generation cephalosporins correlated with clinical failure of therapy.

Conclusion: Rochalimaea henselae can be a cause of cat scratch disease in immunocompetent patients.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cat-Scratch Disease / diagnosis*
  • Cat-Scratch Disease / microbiology
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Fatty Acids / analysis
  • Humans
  • Lymphadenitis / microbiology*
  • Male
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Rickettsiaceae / classification
  • Rickettsiaceae / isolation & purification
  • Rickettsiaceae Infections / diagnosis*
  • Syndrome


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Fatty Acids