Bartonella

Bartonellosis is a disease caused by infection with bacteria of the genus Bartonella. This pet disease is transmitted by bites from infected fleas and ticks, scratches or bites from infected dogs and cats and blood transfusions. Infection with species of Bartonella is common even among healthy pets, especially cats, and it often occurs with other flea-borne and tick-borne diseases. Bartonellosis is a very difficult pet condition to diagnose because it causes variable symptoms, and current tests are not always accurate. Infection with Bartonella occurs in humans as well as dogs and cats, so it is considered a zoonotic disease. In people, the best known condition caused by infection with Bartonella is cat-scratch fever. This condition is characterized by a pustule at the site of a bite or scratch, swollen lymph nodes near the pustule and fever. Recent research has also linked Bartonella to a variety of conditions including inflammation of the eyes, heart disease, migraines and others. Because of the risk to humans, it is extremely important to prevent pets from being infected with Bartonella. This is best accomplished by practicing flea and tick control.

Bartonella

How it Affects your pet

Most pets infected with Bartonella show no obvious symptoms of illness. When present, symptoms are often subtle and may not be noticed by pet owners. In some cases, cats show vague symptoms of Bartonella infection, including eye problems and generalized illness, after periods of stress. Canine bartenellosis often takes the form of heart disease. These bacteria have also been cultured from blood and various tissues of animals with a variety of other pet illnesses. However, because other bacteria are present in the same tissue samples, it is difficult to determine whether or not Bartonella species are the cause of the observed symptoms.

Common symptoms

Symptoms of both canine and feline bartenellosis vary greatly but can include one or more of the following: Swollen lymph nodes, Watery eyes, Sensitivity to light, Redness of the eyes, Coughing, Difficulty breathing, Fatigue, Joint pain and Weight loss. Bartenellosis can also decrease immune system function and make pets more susceptible to other illnesses.

Treatments

Healthy pet animals that test positive for Bartonella need no treatment. Those with symptoms believed to be due to Bartonella infection can be treated with four to six weeks of antibiotic therapy. While several drugs have been suggested to treat the disease, there is no consensus as to the most effective antibiotic for the treatment of bartenellosis. In addition to antibiotics, sick animals may require supportive care and additional medications to treat specific symptoms.

Breeds Affected

There is no known association between Bartonella infection and any particular dog or cat breed.

Bartonella Affects

  • Most pets infected with Bartonella show no obvious symptoms of illness. When present, symptoms are often subtle and may not be noticed by pet owners. In some cases, cats show vague symptoms of Bartonella infection, including eye problems and generalized illness, after periods of stress. Canine bartenellosis often takes the form of heart disease. These bacteria have also been cultured from blood and various tissues of animals with a variety of other pet illnesses. However, because other bacteria are present in the same tissue samples, it is difficult to determine whether or not Bartonella species are the cause of the observed symptoms.

Similar conditions

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