Search Results for: Lyme disease

Tick Testing for Tick-borne Diseases?

Have you wondered what might be in that tick you pulled off your leg or off your dog?  Sometimes the least expensive approach to determining disease exposure is testing the tick you carefully removed and saved, just in case. We receive requests for tick testing services regularly. While we don’t do tick testing at Galaxy, there a few labs that do tick testing around the country:

Bay Area Lyme Foundation offers FREE tick testing through a citizen science research project launched in partnership with the Nieto Lab at Northern Arizona University. Testing does not include Bartonella spp at this time.

URI Tick Encounter Resource Center offers tick identification services only, but refers tick testing to UMass Amherst’s Tick Report Service.

UMass Amherst offers fee-for service tick-testing through their Tick Report Service.  Testing includes a broad range of tick-borne pathogens including Bartonella henselae and tick-borne viruses.

Tick Chek Lab offers a fee-for service tick testing, including Bartonella henselae.

Remember that even if the tick is positive it does not mean that transmission occurred following attachment. Also, keep in mind that no lab test is perfect, so there is always a risk of false negatives with even the best DNA test methods.

Stay Safe!!

Prevention is key to keep your family and your pet protected from tick and flea-borne diseases. We recommend that you protect your animals with flea-and tick-borne preventative treatments. You may also consider treating your yard as appropriate. Covering up for outdoor activities–wearing a hat, tucking pants into socks and shirts into pants–and wearing clothes pretreated with Permethrin can offer more thorough protection than simple use of insect repellant.

Find Information on Local Disease Prevalence

The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) interactive maps document canine disease prevalence across US counties. Dogs are screened annually by veterinarians for common tick-borne diseases and heart worm infection. Dogs are at higher risk of tick and flea-borne diseases than people, but we share similar the risk of exposure so these maps may be useful for determining possible disease exposure in your local area.


Bartonella and Small Vessel Disease on People’s Pharmacy

Excellent podcast on People’s Pharmacy!! Dr Neil Spector discusses some practical aspects of Lyme Disease epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment. Dr. Robert Mozayeni discusses potential links between Bartonella and Lyme Disease, as well as the diagnostic process for small vessel disease and chronic inflammation. Dr. Platts-Mills discusses alpha-gal antibody response following tick bites and meat consumption in regions endemic for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Podcast is available on iTunes or can be downloaded from the People’s Pharmacy website.

Thanks to Joe & Terry Graedon for the opportunity to share our research and clinical experience!



What is Bartonellosis?

Bartonellosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria in the genus Bartonella. Bartonellosis causes similar disease manifestations in cats, dogs, horses, humans and potentially other wild and domestic animals. Popularly known as the key agents causing Cat Scratch Disease (Bartonella henselae) or Trench Fever (Bartonella quintana), Bartonella species (spp.) are very difficult to detect in patient blood, cerebrospinal fluid, joint fluid or tissue samples. Consequently, little has been known until recently about the pathogenesis of this disease.  Bartonella (with currently 37 named species and 17 Candidatus spp.) were essentially rediscovered in the 1990’s as a cause of vasoproliferative tumors, endocarditis and fever of unknown origin in immunosuppressed or immunocompromised (HIV) patients.  Recent medical findings suggest that, while potentially life-threatening to immunosuppressed patients, Bartonellosis is associated with chronic illness in immunocompetent patients. Animal and human Bartonellosis has been documented in many regions throughout the world.

How do people get Bartonellosis?

Bartonella spp. may be transmitted by contact with flea and louse feces, ticks or biting flies, or by the scratch or bite of an infected animal, most often a flea-infested cat.  Bartonella spp. DNA have been found in several arthropod vectors in the United States, including cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) and ticks (Ixodes scapularis, Ixodes pacificus). Suspected transmission of Bartonella spp. following the bite or scratch of wild animals, such as groundhogs, squirrels, and coyotes has also been documented.

Research suggests that people who live and work with animals, especially veterinary workers, have the highest risk of Bartonella infection.

Where do most cases of Bartonellosis occur?

Bartonella infections in humans and animals have been documented throughout the United States and in countries in all major regions of the world.  Geographic evidence suggests that prevalence of Bartonella spp. in arthropod vectors (fleas, ticks, lice, biting flies, etc.) is higher in warmer climates.

What are the symptoms of Bartonellosis?

Bartonella spp. induce chronic intravascular and intracellular infection resulting in a wide range of symptoms that can include pathology involving multiple organ systems.  The early clinical presentation of Bartonellosis is often nonspecific with symptoms that resemble many other infectious and non-infectious diseases. Three important components of the initial clinical presentation are fever, swollen lymph nodes, and at risk exposure to arthropod vectors or bacteremic animals. None of these symptoms may be present in patients seeking medical care for chronic Bartonellosis.

Symptoms that vary in number and severity among patients may include:

  • fever
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • malaise
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • skin rash or markings
  • joint aches and swelling
  • cardiovascular signs
  • neurovascular inflammation
  • abnormal sleep patterns
  • memory loss
  • skin lesions
  • vasoproliferative tumors

Bartonellosis is associated with complex disease processes in both people and animals.  It is possible to be chronically-infected with Bartonella and not have disease symptoms.  The extent to which persistent infection in outwardly healthy individuals ultimately contributes to organ system pathology is unknown. Bartonellosis can range from severe life-threatening illnesses (myocarditis, endocarditis, vasculitis) to chronic intermittent and often relapsing symptoms listed above. It is possible that some individuals may become infected and not develop disease. It is not known if this is because some immune systems clear the Bartonella infection or because the infection is well tolerated.

How is Bartonellosis diagnosed?

A diagnosis of Bartonellosis is based on a combination of symptoms, physical examination findings, and specialized confirmatory laboratory tests. Detection of Bartonella is extremely challenging, as these bacteria are immune-evasive and infect at exceedingly low levels of detection. IFA serology tests are available for the detection of antibodies, but only for a few Bartonella spp. Although highly insensitive, IFA serology tests can provide evidence of exposure, but do not confirm infection. The most effective means of detecting active infection involves the combination of culture and PCR detection methods–referred to as enrichment PCR or ePCR.

Evolving evidence suggests that early detection and confirmation of Bartonella spp. infection is important for providing the best patient care.

How is Bartonellosis treated?

A number of different antibiotics have been used to treat Bartonella infection. Treatment recommendations vary on a case-by-case basis.

How can Bartonellosis be prevented?

  • Avoid contact with feral animals, especially cats and rodents.
  • Wear protective clothing when working or playing outdoors and when interacting with animals.
  • Routinely use pest control measures for fleas, lice and ticks in your home and on your pets.
  • Remove fleas, lice, and ticks promptly and properly and avoid scratching arthropod feces into wounds.
  • Clean bites and scratches promptly using soap and water.
  • See your doctor if you experience persistent flu-like symptoms and other adverse reactions following potential Bartonella spp exposure. Early detection is key.

Further Reading

Bartonellosis: One Health Perspectives for an Emerging Infectious Disease.  Breitschwerdt EB. ILAR J (2014) 55 (1): 46-58.

Bartonella spp. bacteremia and rheumatic symptoms in patients from Lyme disease-endemic region. Maggi RG, Mozayeni BR, Pultorak EL, Hegarty BC, Bradley JM, Correa M, Breitschwerdt EB. Emerg Infect Dis. 2012 May;18(5):783-91. 

Neurological Manifestations of Bartonellosis in Immunocompetent Patients: A Composite of Reports from 2005–2012. Breitschwerdt EB, Sontakke S, and Hopkins S. Journal of Neuroparasitology 2012;Vol 3:1-15. 

Bartonella, a common cause of endocarditis: a report on 106 cases and review.  E. S., Nabet C, Lepidi H, Fournier PE, Raoult D. J Clin Microbiol. 2015 Mar;53(3):824-9. 

Bartonella: A Multi-Systemic Health Concern

Bartonella CME July 24 2015


Please join us in Cambridge, Maryland this month as Dr. Ed Breitschwerdt, Dr. Bob Mozayeni and Dr. Ann Corson present on the emerging science and new clinical understandings of Bartonella spp infection in both human and animal medicine.

The conference is intended for medical professionals (technical content), but is open to the public. CME credits and certificates are available.

Register now:

Many thanks to the Lyme Disease Association of the Eastern Shore of Maryland for hosting and organizing this important event!


Bartonella Infection in Cats

Cats can tolerate a Bartonella infection much better than humans can.  Until recently, in fact, veterinarians considered Bartonella infection to be of little concern for the health of cats.  The latest research is changing minds.  Emerging evidence suggests that Bartonella infection is actually associated with a broad range of inflammatory symptoms in cats. 

Veterinarians represent the frontlines of public health surveillance where zoonotic infections, like Bartonella, are concerned.  Some veterinarians, like Lori Blankenship and her colleagues at Animals First Veterinary Service, are already recommending that pet owners screen their cats for Bartonella infection.  Bartonella infections can be life threatening for people with poor immune systems (e.g., cause severe complications in HIV patients), so screening cats is particularly important for households that include people with low/poor immune function.

What are the risks for pet owners?

Research estimates that about half of all cats are naturally infected with Bartonella henselae.  Prevalence rates may be as high as 80% in feral cats and as low as 1/3 of household pets.  Recent evidence further suggests that veterinarians and other animal workers are at higher risk of Bartonella infection.  But what about pet owners?

The answer right now is that we don’t know for sure because targeted clinical studies are needed.  However, the latest research does suggest that pet owners should be on the alert for persistent symptoms following bites and scratches or exposure to fleas, ticks, lice, and potentially biting flies.

Cat Scratch Disease (CSD) is considered to be a self-limiting, immune response in humans (e.g., swollen lymph nodes).  In 2008, the CDC reported an incident rate of 22,000 confirmed cases of Cat Scratch Disease with only  2,000 hospitalizations.  However, more recent findings suggest that atypical presentations of Bartonella infection may be more common than previously understood.

Research implicates Bartonella infection in persistent symptoms affecting the joints, neurological system, and vascular system.  Symptoms can range from flu-like symptoms to more serious issues, like vision loss, numbness in hands and feet, or even seizures.  Like Lyme Disease, Bartonella infection is a difficult infection to diagnose and can be difficult to treat in some patients.


Galaxy Diagnostics offers The Best in Bartonella testing for Humans and Animals. Keep yourself and loved ones healthy!


For more information on the latest findings, see:

Review article on public health implications of Bartonellosis in cats and dogs.

Research study on Bartonella infection in people with high rates of animal exposure

Bartonella mentioned in Scientific American

Bartonella received a brief mention in the January 2013 issue of Scientific American.  The article highlights the need for rigorous clinical research to more precisely investigate the role that Bartonella species play in a variety of chronic disorders.  The call is now out to medical researchers investigating Rheumatoid Arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Lyme Disease to take up the banner and test the hypotheses in independent studies.

New research links Bartonella to arthritis symptoms

A new research study published by the Bartonella research team at NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine links Bartonella infection to rheumatologic symptoms in patients with historical diagnoses of Lyme disease, arthritis, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia.  For more more information, see: