The Pain of Bartonella

Dr. Edward Breitschwerdt believes this bacterial infection, typically spread by fleas, lice and biting flies, could have been passed between family members.

Dr. Michael Kosoy, who heads the Bartonella laboratory for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Fort Collins, Colo., said scientists are only beginning to build evidence that Bartonella infections may be more common than previously thought.

At least 26 strains of Bartonella have been named worldwide, and the list is growing. The most notorious Bartonella infection is cat scratch disease, a fever illness passed to humans from flea-infected cats. Fleas are the primary hosts, and they spread the bacteria in their feces.

Excerpted from Baltimore Sun  ( Posted: 05/28/2010 )

A bacterial infection typically spread by fleas, lice and biting flies could be more prevalent than many think, and may have been transmitted from a mother to her children at birth, scientists from N.C. State University say.

Dr. Edward Breitschwerdt, an infectious disease veterinarian and one of the world’s leading researchers of bacteria called Bartonella, has for the first time documented evidence that the pathogen may have been passed between family members.

Although more studies are needed to back up his findings, Breitschwerdt and colleagues describe the case of a mother and father who began battling chronic aches, fatigues and other symptoms soon after they were married. When their twins were born in 1998, the daughter died after nine days from a heart defect, and the son developed chronic health problems.

Using tissue from the daughter’s autopsy and blood from the surviving family members, Breitschwerdt’s team discovered that the entire family was infected with the same species of Bartonella bacteria, despite having no shared exposures to flea or lice infestations. Bartonella is known to causes such illnesses as trench fever and cat scratch disease, and it is increasingly suspected of triggering a variety of aches and inflammations that doctors have been unable to diagnose.

“I think we have stumbled across something that is of monumental medical importance,” said Breitschwerdt, whose findings were published recently in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

For the full article: http://www.baltimoresun.com/health/sns-health-bartonella,1,281887.story

~ by Rob on May 28, 2010.

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