Objective: To determine serologic and epidemiologic characteristics of an occupational group potentially at risk for Bartonella sp infection.
Design: Epidemiologic survey.
Sample population: 351 veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and other individuals attending a veterinary conference in Ohio.
Procedure: A serum sample was obtained from each individual and tested for antibodies to Bartonella henselae or B quintana. A 24-question survey also was administered regarding demographic, occupational, and exposure information.
Results: 25 (7.1%) individuals were seropositive for B henselae or B quintana. Forty-seven, of whom 5 were seropositive, reported a history of illness consistent with cat-scratch disease and 18, of whom 3 were seropositive, reported a previous diagnosis of cat-scratch disease. Of the variables analyzed, only years of experience with cats was correlated with seropositivity.
Clinical implications: The overall seroprevalence for 2 species of Bartonella in this occupational group was only slightly higher than that reported from other surveys. Seroprevalences among veterinarians, veterinary technicians, hospital staff, and others were essentially identical. Small sample groups, high percentage of cat ownership among participants, unknown duration of seropositivity, and unknown prevalence of infection among cats were potential confounders.