Molecular Detection of Bartonellosis

Bartonella henselae bacteria photo

Emerging Infectious Diseases (McCormick, D.W., et al.) 3.23, has published a Medscape Continuing Medical Education (CME) Activity; “Bartonella spp. Infections Identified by Molecular Methods, United States.” The authors describe how molecular methods of testing can provide identification of Bartonella spp. infections−difficult to diagnose by using culture or serology.

Investigators identified 430 clinical specimens infected with Bartonella spp. from 420 patients in the US−median age 37 years and over half were male. The most common species detected was Bartonella henselae (77%), known for causing cat scratch fever, found in 34% of lymph node specimens. B. quintana was detected in 13% of samples and 83% of the cardiac specimens.

Currently, twelve species of Bartonella genus are associated with human infection. Researchers demonstrated that molecular diagnostic testing may improve the ability to identify Bartonella spp. infections, especially for novel or uncommon species or yet undescribed species. This improved diagnostic may assist in positive identification of patients who have culture-negative endocarditis or lymphadenitis. Because Bartonella spp. infections are not nationally notifiable diseases, there is limited knowledge of the epidemiology of this disease in the US.

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