Is Bartonella Reactivated after COVID?

Cat ScratchingBMC Infectious Diseases (Dong, Y., et al.) 04.22.24, published “Post-COVID reactivation of latent Bartonella henselae infection: a case report and literature review.” In this case review, authors describe a 54-year-old male that presented with a “painful left upper arm mass.” The mass was resolved with antibiotic treatment. The man then experienced an infection with COVID which resulted in rapid regrowth of the mass. Additionally, he experienced pulmonary symptoms which included pleural effusion. The cause of the man’s symptoms was unknown until next generation sequencing (NGS) was performed.

NGS testing confirmed the presence of Bartonella henselae (B. henselae), the bacteria that causes Cat Scratch Disease (CSD). According to the article, CSD is typically considered a self-limiting condition. Complications have been documented in immunocompromised patients with co-occurrence of disseminated bartonellosis and and HIV. Authors believe this is the first documentation of COVID infection reactivating a latent B. henselae infection.

The more that is learned about bartonellosis, the more acknowledgement there is that this bacteria is a major public health issue, especially in patients that are immuno-compromised. Co-occurrence of these infections leads to challenges and complexity in both diagnosis and treatment of disease. Authors suggest that medical care providers consider multiple diagnostic possibilities and adaptation of treatment strategies in light of these co-occurring infections

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