Bartonella henselae and Bartonella quintana are small, pleomorphic, Gram-negative bacteria. The lice of the human body (Pediculus humanis) is considered the carrier vector for Bartonella quintana. The animal host for Bartonella quintana is not known while for Bartonella henselae, the cat is believed to be both the reservoir and its vector. Cats can infect humans directly by scratching, biting, licking, or indirectly through an arthropod vector.
Bartonella enters the body through the skin. At these sites, characteristic lesions occur. Microorganisms can be found in vacuoles of endothelial cells and macrophages and between cells in the necrotic regions. Occasionally, microorganisms are also observed in the blood vessels, causing spread tissue infections with Bartonella in the blood, lymph nodes, spleen, liver, bone marrow, and heart.
Bartonella henselae has been associated with cat scratch disease, peliosis hepatis, and endocarditis. Bartonella quintana has been associated with trench fever, bacillary angiomatosis, and endocarditis. Both can cause bacillary angiomatosis, a relatively recently recognized syndrome. Bacillary angiomatosis is a vascular proliferative disease that usually involves the skin and local lymph nodes.
Cat scratch disease begins as a skin rash or blister that usually develops within a week after contact with the infected animal. The following peripheral lymphadenopathy is the dominant clinical feature of the disease.
Trench fever, which was a serious problem during World War I and World War II, is characterized by recurrent fever and severe pain in the lower legs.
Interest in Bartonella quintana and Bartonella henselae has recently increased as their presence in AIDS patients and transplanted patients has been documented. Both peliosis hepatis and febrile bacteremia are two conditions that occur in patients with AIDS or patients who are immunosuppressed. Although trench fever and cat-scratch disease are usually self-limiting diseases, other diseases caused by Bartonella can be life-threatening.
Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. The correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".
Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings, and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.
At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.