Bartonella henselae

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Bartonella henselae
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Bacteria
Phylum: Pseudomonadota
Class: Alphaproteobacteria
Order: Hyphomicrobiales
Family: Bartonellaceae
Genus: Bartonella
B. henselae
Binomial name
Bartonella henselae
(Regnery et al. 1992) Brenner et al. 1993

Rochalimæa henselae Regnery et al. 1992

Bartonella henselae, formerly Rochalimæa henselae, is a bacterium that is the causative agent of cat-scratch disease[1] (bartonellosis).

Bartonella henselae is a member of the genus Bartonella, one of the most common types of bacteria in the world.[specify] The specific name henselae honors Diane Marie Hensel (b. 1953), a clinical microbiology technologist at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, who collected numerous strains and samples of the infective agent during an outbreak in Oklahoma in 1985.[2] It is a facultative intracellular microbe that targets red blood cells. One study showed it invaded the mature blood cells of humans.[3] It infects the host cell by sticking to it using trimeric autotransporter adhesins.[4] In the United States, about 20,000 cases are diagnosed each year,[5] most under 15 years old. Most often, it is transmitted by scratches or bites from kittens.[6]


Bartonella henselae is a Gram-negative rod.[4][7] It can be cultured in a lysis-centrifugation blood culture.[8] The presence of bacteria can be detected by Warthin-Starry stain, or by a similar silver stain technique performed on infected tissue. A pan-Bartonella PCR detection is non-invasive and uses blood or biopsies to diagnose.[9]


Bartonella henselae infection can appear up to 10 days after exposure to the microbe. Symptoms start with a papule at the site the microbe entered, followed by lymphadenopathy, usually in the axillary node. Half of patients also get aches, nausea, abdominal pain, and malaise.[10] Many other complications can arise from this infection beyond the typical fever, lymphadenopathy, and general malaise. Immunocompromised people or patients who already have other conditions are at greater risk for further complications. Some cases have been found in children who had previous heart-valve disease; these children got endocarditis from B. henselae infection. Some patients had hepatosplenic involvement, myalgia, and arthritis after exposure to B. henselae.[10] In rare cases, osteomyelitis, an infection in the bone, can be a manifestation of B. henselae.[11]


No definite treatment regimen is known for a patient infected with B. henselae. Treatment depends on the wide range of symptoms that present. In most cases, it will resolve on its own in 4–6 weeks.[12] Aminoglycosides in laboratory tests showed some bactericidal activity. Bacteriostatic antibiotics are not able to easily get through to intracellular Bartonella, so they are not recommended. In immunocompromised patients, pain medication is often prescribed. Nodes may need to be aspirated if painful, microabscesses often form, the abscess needs to be aspirated in many places to remove all the exudate. Because of chronic sinus-tract formation risks, the nodes should not be incised to be drained. Azithromycin can be used for lymphadenopathy, which is enlarged or swollen lymph nodes.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jerris RC, Regnery RL (1996). "Will the real agent of cat-scratch disease please stand up?". Annu. Rev. Microbiol. 50: 707–25. doi:10.1146/annurev.micro.50.1.707. PMID 8905096.
  2. ^ Parte, A.C. "Bartonella". LPSN.
  3. ^ Cotté, Violaine, et al. "Transmission of Bartonella henselae by Ixodes ricinus." Emerging infectious diseases 14.7 (2008): 1074.
  4. ^ a b Angelakis E, Raoult D. Pathogenicity and treatment of Bartonella infections. Int J Antimicrob Agents 2014;44:16–25.
  5. ^ "Bartonellosis". Lyme Disease. 2018-04-11. Retrieved 2023-04-10.
  6. ^ "Bartonella henselae infection or cat scratch disease (CSD) | Bartonella | CDC". 2022-01-19. Retrieved 2023-04-10.
  7. ^ Kavita Diddi; Rama Chaudhry; Nidhi Sharma; Benu Dhawan (28 March 2011). "Strategy for identification & characterization of Bartonella henselae with conventional & molecular methods". Indian Journal of Medical Research. 137 (2): 380–387. PMC 3657863. PMID 23563383.
  8. ^ Bernard La Scola; Didier Raoult (17 March 1999). "Culture of Bartonella quintana and Bartonella henselae from Human Samples: a 5-Year Experience (1993 to 1998)". Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 37 (6): 1899–1905. doi:10.1128/JCM.37.6.1899-1905.1999. PMC 84980. PMID 10325344.
  9. ^ Luciani, Léa; El Baroudi, Yahya; Prudent, Elsa; Raoult, Didier; Fournier, Pierre-Edouard (2021-11-01). "Bartonella infections diagnosed in the French reference center, 2014–2019, and focus on infections in the immunocompromised". European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases. 40 (11): 2407–2410. doi:10.1007/s10096-021-04244-z. ISSN 1435-4373.
  10. ^ a b c Mazur-Melewska, Katarzyna, et al. "Cat-scratch disease: a wide spectrum of clinical pictures." Advances in Dermatology and Allergology/Postȩpy Dermatologii i Alergologii 32.3 (2015): 216.
  11. ^ Pitassi, Luiza Helena Urso, et al. "Bartonella henselae infects human erythrocytes." Ultrastructural pathology 31.6 (2007): 369–372.
  12. ^ Zangwill, Kenneth M., et al. "Cat Scratch Disease in Connecticut—Epidemiology, Risk Factors, and Evaluation of a New Diagnostic Test." New England

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