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Bartonella quintana, Molecular Detection

Molecular testing for Bartonella quintana is used to confirm the presence of the bacterium in suspected cases of trench fever and some other related infections.

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Bartonella quintana is a Gram-negative bacterium that is responsible for causing the infectious disease known as trench fever.


Bartonella quintana is primarily transmitted to humans through the bites of infected body lice (Pediculus humanus corporis). The bacterium can be present in the feces of infected lice, and when the lice bite a human, the bacterium can enter the body through the broken skin.

Clinical Presentation

Trench fever, the disease caused by Bartonella quintana, is characterized by recurrent fever and other symptoms. The name "trench fever" originates from its association with World War I soldiers who experienced the illness while living in unsanitary conditions in trenches. The symptoms of trench fever include high fever, severe headache, muscle and joint pain, rash, fatigue, and sometimes swollen lymph nodes. The fever tends to recur at regular intervals, typically every five days.


The diagnosis of trench fever is often based on clinical symptoms and a history of exposure to body lice or lice-infested environments. Laboratory tests, such as serological assays (detection of antibodies against Bartonella quintana) or PCR testing, can be used to confirm the diagnosis.


Trench fever caused by Bartonella quintana is typically treated with antibiotics. Doxycycline is the first-line treatment of choice, and it is usually given for several weeks to eliminate the bacterium from the body. Other antibiotics like azithromycin or erythromycin may be used as alternatives, particularly in patients who cannot tolerate doxycycline.


Preventing trench fever involves measures to control body lice infestations. This includes maintaining personal hygiene, regular laundering of clothes and bedding, and avoiding overcrowded and unsanitary living conditions. For individuals at high risk, such as those in homeless populations or areas with poor sanitation, efforts to control lice infestations and improve living conditions can help reduce the transmission of Bartonella quintana.

It's important to note that Bartonella quintana can also cause other clinical manifestations, including bacillary angiomatosis and endocarditis, particularly in individuals with weakened immune systems.


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