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Bartonellosis in Dogs: Identifying the Source

Clinician's Brief (Capsule)

Infectious Disease

|June 2012

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Bartonella vinsonii subsp berkhoffii was first isolated from a dog with endocarditis in 1993 and has since been isolated from wild canines and humans. It potentially can cause cardiac arrhythmias, myocarditis, granulomatous lymphadenitis, uveitis, choroiditis, meningitis, panniculitis, polyarthritis, radiculitis, bacillary angiomatosis, and sialometaplasia in dogs. The predominant cells that remain infected in persistently infected hosts are unknown. In this study, the invasion of canine erythrocytes by B vinsonii subsp berkhoffii was demonstrated and the results suggested that canine erythrocytes may play a role in the maintenance of bacteremia in an infected host.

Bartonellosis is now recognized as a potential emerging infectious disease in dogs; however, the natural behavior of the organism remains unclear. This study identified canine erythrocytes as a potential mechanism for invasion of and persistence within host cells of infected dogs. The ACVIM published a consensus statement on screening canine and feline blood donors for infectious disease in 2005.1 Testing for Bartonella spp was only conditionally recommended because the mechanism of transmission remained unknown. If future studies verify that Bartonella organisms are present in canine erythrocytes in vivo and can be transmitted through blood transfusion, then screening for Bartonella in blood donors may be recommended.—Jennifer Ginn, DVM, MS, DACVIM

Invasion of canine erythrocytes by Bartonella vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii. Billeter SA, Breitschwerdt EB, Levy MG. VET MICROBIOL 156:213-216, 2012.

1. Canine and feline blood donor screening for infectious disease. Wardrop KJ, Reine N, Birkenheuer A, et al. J Vet Intern Med 19:135-142, 2005.

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