Bartonella henselae - Molecular diagnosis (PCR)


Bartonella henselae (formerly Rochalimaea) is a Gram - negative bacteria of the genus Bartonella, family Bartonellaceae, with a worldwide distribution. Bartonella henselae primarily affects dogs and cats causing bartonelosis or cat-scratch disease (CSD), although it is an important emerging disease in people. Currently, they described at least 20 species or subspecies of Bartonella, most of which are zoonotic agents. Of these 20 species or subspecies, at least 8 infect humans.

The life cycle of this microorganism involves intermediate host where mature, typically insect vectors arthropods as ticks and fleas. It is believed that fleas are the main vector in cats. Also, Bartonella henselae can be found in the environment as well as the skin, nails, and paws of cats. As a result, infected nails and saliva of cats are transmission routes after a bite or scratch. After infection, Bartonella henselae colonizes endothelial cells. Subsequently, a part of the population of Bartonella henselae of endothelial cells in the bloodstream, where it is released infect erythrocytes . It is when bacteria invade and divide within the phagosome in erythrocytes. Subsequently, the bacteria multiply inside the erythrocytes until they reach a critical population.

Although Bartonella henselae can infect both animals and humans, animals tend to be asymptomatic carriers. However, there have been cases in which can cause neurological diseases, fever, infectious endocarditis, angiomatosis, meningitis, encephalitis and neuroretinitis.

Meanwhile people can become infected through flea bites or through a scratch or bite of an infected cat. Immunocompromised individuals are particularly at risk of infection. After an incubation period of about 5 to 20 days they are generally observed small erythematous papules or pustules in place of the bite or scratch. Intravascular persistent infection by Bartonella henselae can cause persistent fever, hemolytic anemia, arthritis, endocarditis, bacillary angiomatosis and peliosis, encephalopathy, lymphadenopathy, angiomatosis, meningitis and neuroretinitis in people.

Recommended tests for diagnosis:


The diagnosis is based on molecular diagnostic methods (PCR).

Tests in IVAMI:


  • Molecular diagnosis (PCR), to detect DNA of Bartonella henselae.

Recommended sample:


  • Whole blood collected with EDTA (2 to 5 mL).

Preservation and shipment of sample:


  • Refrigerated (preferred) for less than 2 days.
  • Frozen: over 2 days.


Delivery term:


  • Molecular diagnosis (PCR): 24 to 48 hours.

Cost of the test: