Bartonella’s Ability to Survive Outside Host

The Pathogens Journal (Bush J. C., et al.) 07.18.2023, published “Viability and Desiccation Resistance of Bartonella henselae in Biological and Non-Biological Fluids: Evidence for Pathogen Environmental Stability.” The aim of this study is to understand Bartonella henselae‘s ability to survive in various fluids outside its host, which could potentially lead to infections in both animals and humans through environmental exposure. The researchers tested feline whole blood, serum, and urine, as well as bovine milk and physiologic saline (to simulate coastal marine conditions).

Bartonella henselae is an emerging zoonotic (infections that spread between animals and people) vector-borne pathogen and also the cause of Cat Scratch Disease (CSD). This infection has become an “pathogen of interest” in serious human illnesses including neoplastic, cardiovascular, neurocognitive, and rheumatologic conditions. B. henselae can be transmitted through flea excrement, arthropods (like ticks, ants, and spiders), and potential direct contact with infected blood or other bodily fluids. The domestic cat is the primary host for Bartonella henselae, with other mammals including raccoons, domestic dogs, horses, cows, and feral swine.

The findings of the study show that B. henselae can remain active in various biological and non-biological fluids, including feline urine, blood, serum, cow’s milk, and physiologic saline for extended periods. This suggests that this bacterium may persist in the environment, potentially leading to infections in animals and humans who come into contact with contaminated fluids.

LDA NOTE: Although Bartonella has been found in ticks in the US, the CDC’s position is “Ticks may carry some species of Bartonella bacteria, but there is currently no causal evidence that ticks can transmit Bartonella infection to people through their bites.” A 2004 study in NJ using PCR of Ixodes scapularis ticks in NJ showed Bartonella spp present in 34.5% of ticks tested.

For more information:

Read the full article on the MDPI Open Access Journals website here.

Read more on Bartonella on the LDA website here.

Read more on Bartonella in Flies on the LDA website here.