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Do cats serve as good sentinels for Bartonella species infection risk in people and animals?
  1. Diana G. Scorpio, DVM, MPH, DACLAM
  1. Animal Program Director, National Institutes of Health, Vaccine Research Center, Building 40 Bethesda, Maryland, USA; e-mail:

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Bartonella henselae and Bartonella clarridgeiae are emerging pathogens and infections are quite common in feline populations across the globe. The bacteria are known to cause infection and disease in numerous species, including people (Chomel and others 2006). Fleas spread the infection, although other vectors such as ticks have been implicated in transmission (Cotte and others 2008). Bartonella infection is considered zoonotic, so the identification of animal reservoirs aids in developing public health measures to minimise exposures. Due to its impact in veterinary and human medicine (Table 1), research involving Bartonella species has increased significantly in the past few decades.

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Bartonella species associated and potentially associated with human disease, their distribution and vectors (Lamas and others 2008)

Infection with Bartonella species can be diagnosed with serological techniques (Wolf and others 2014), namely immunofluorescence antibody tests. However, the utility of this method is limited since it only implies exposure to the bacteria. Therefore, molecular methods such as PCR and isolation in culture are more definitive and not only suggest infection, but also the presence of carrier and reservoir states (Maggi and others 2005, Pennisi and others 2010). One of the most advanced of the culture isolation methods is the Bartonella alpha proteobacteria growth medium (BAPGM) enrichment step, followed by …

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