Bartonella henselae

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Bartonella henselae
Blood culture negative endocarditis.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Bacteria
Phylum: Proteobacteria
Class: Alphaproteobacteria
Order: Rhizobiales
Family: Bartonellaceae
Genus: Bartonella
Species: B. henselae
Binomial name
Bartonella henselae
(Regnery et al. 1992)

Bartonella henselae, formerly Rochalimæa, is a proteobacterium that can cause bacteremia, endocarditis, bacillary angiomatosis, and peliosis hepatis. It is also the causative agent of cat-scratch disease[1] (bartonellosis) which, as the name suggests, occurs after a cat bite or scratch. The disease is characterized by lymphadenopathy (swelling of the lymph nodes) and fever.

Peliosis hepatis caused by B. henselae can occur alone or develop with cutaneous bacillary angiomatosis or bacteremia. Patients with peliosis hepatis present with gastrointestinal symptoms, fever, chills, and an enlarged liver and spleen containing blood-filled cavities. This systemic disease is mostly seen in patients infected with HIV and other immunocompromised individuals.

B. henselae is a member of the Bartonella genus, one of the most common types of bacteria in the world. It infects the host cell by sticking to it using trimeric autotransporter adhesins.

The presence of bacteria can be detected by Warthin-Starry stain, or by a similar silver stain technique performed on infected tissue.


B. henselae is a Gram-negative rod.[2] It can be cultured in a lysis-centrifugation blood culture.[3] The diagnosis is made after a detailed patient history and physical is taken. A hallmark of the infectious process includes history of contact with a cat (hence the name cat scratch disease).


Common symptoms:[4]

  • Fever
  • Enlarged, tender lymph nodes that develop 1–3 weeks after exposure
  • A papule or pustule at the inoculation site


B. henselae infections are usually self-limiting, but can be treated with azithromycin or doxycycline.[5]

The specific name henselae honors Oklahoman microbiologist Diane Marie Hensel (b. 1953), who collected numerous strains and samples of the infective agent during an outbreak in Oklahoma in 1985.[6]


  1. ^ Jerris RC, Regnery RL (1996). "Will the real agent of cat-scratch disease please stand up?". Annu. Rev. Microbiol. 50: 707–25. PMID 8905096. doi:10.1146/annurev.micro.50.1.707. 
  2. ^ 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: 380–387. PMC 3657863Freely accessible. 
  3. ^ 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)" (PDF). Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 37 (6): 1899–1905. Retrieved 1 December 2016. 
  4. ^ "Bartonella Infection (Cat Scratch Disease, Trench Fever, and Carrión’s Disease)". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 29 November 2012. 
  5. ^ Bartonellosis~treatment at eMedicine
  6. ^

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