There are currently 30–40 identified Bartonella spp, 14 of which are zoonotic. Various reservoirs exist; rodents and cats have been the most extensively studied. Cats are the principal reservoirs of B clarridgeiae, which causes endocarditis in humans, and B henselae, which causes cat scratch disease. Little is known about Bartonella spp infections in raccoons. This study described 2 Bartonella spp in an urban population of raccoons and compared them with Bartonella spp infections in feral cats.

DNA was extracted from blood samples of 37 live-trapped raccoons and 37 feral cats on St. Simons Island, an urbanized coastal barrier island in the state of Georgia, and PCR was performed. Nearly half (16 raccoons, 18 cats) tested positive for Bartonella spp. Of these, 13 positive raccoon samples and 16 positive cat samples were sequenced for speciation. Twelve raccoons and 13 cats harbored B henselae. One raccoon and 1 cat had B koehlerae; B clarridgeiae was identified in 2 cats.

The relatively high proportion of raccoons harboring B henselae is important as it implies raccoons may potentially be another active reservoir host of zoonotic B henselae and possibly B koehlerae, and there could be cross-species transmission of Bartonella spp between feral cats and raccoons. Further study is indicated to elucidate whether Bartonella spp infections in raccoons are caused by spillover from feral cats.

Bartonella species in raccoons and feral cats, Georgia, USA. Hwang J, Gottdenker NL. EMERG INFECT DIS 19:1167-1168, 2013.

This capsule is part of the One Health Initiative.