Infection/Inflammation: Bartonella


Bartonellosis is an infection with bacteria of the genus Bartonella, which can cause symptoms that range from mild to debilitating, as chronic infection leads to persistent inflammatory responses.

Symptoms can vary in severity and come and go over time. They include fatigue, rash, fever, bone and joint pain, muscle aches, abdominal pain, and memory loss. Recent advances in understanding the Bartonella bacteria and in laboratory testing for its presence in humans have opened the door for more extensive research and more specific clinical identification and treatment of underlying infections and inflammatory processes associated with these pathogens.

Bartonellosis is transmitted to humans directly from animal hosts such as cats, dogs, wildlife, marine mammals, horses and other farm animals,  or by intermediaries such as tics, fleas, lice, sand fleas, and mosquitoes.  Of the many subspecies of Bartonella, at least eight have been shown to infect humans.  Examples include B. henselae, which is responsible for Cat Scratch Fever;: B. quintana, which causes trench fever; and B. bacilliformis, which is responsible for Carrion's disease.  It is also associated with endocarditis and myocarditis.  

Infection with Bartonella often goes undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia. To diagnose a Bartonella infection it takes a high index of suspicion, extensive clinical assessment, and specialized confirmatory laboratory testing.  Because these bacteria are able to evade the immune system and often exist at low levels in infected patients, they are difficult to detect. 

Bartonella Registry

FSID in collaboration with a consortium of clinical practices and a research foundation, is launching a registry to gather in-depth clinical data on a growing number of patients diagnosed with, or suspected of, having Bartonella infections.  This registry will become the repository of longitudinal patient data  and ongoing objective and subjective data submitted directly by patients. Advanced analytical software will be used to identify patterns in the data that inform and guide ongoing research and treatment protocols. FSID will share the knowledge and insights gathered with researchers, physicians and patients to both enhance patient care and encourage ongoing research.

To learn more about the Bartonella Registry, please contact us.