Emerging concern - Veterinary Professionals:
Updated: Jun 25
Potential exposure to zoonotic disease is an inherent risk in veterinary medicine. We are exposed to a multitude of different vectors, reservoir hosts, animal species and infectious disease. Bartonella is one of many pathogens capable of causing chronic illness. Published in 2010 by the National Report — "Bartonellosis is no longer considered a self-limiting disease, and for some people chronic infection can be debilitating and hard to diagnose..."
Mounting research has shown the emerging concern and higher prevalence of Bartonellosis and Chronic Bacteremia in veterinary professionals, wildlife workers, and farmers.
"Up to 28% of symptomatic Veterinarians and over 40% of chronically ill patients have tested positive for Bartonella DNA in their blood, compared to 0% in healthy controls". (outlined in Lantos 2014 and Maggi 2012).
"Bartonella henselae has been shown to infect erythrocytes, endothelial cells, macrophages, microglial cells and even human CD 34+progenitor cells" (113,114,115,116 - Citing Article) which it uses to subvert the immune response.
If you work with animals, YOU ARE AT HIGHER RISK for Bartonella exposure.
"While new human medical and veterinary research is quickly debunking traditional beliefs about these infectious bacteria, expert Dr. Edward Breitschwerdt, of North Carolina State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, wants veterinarians to sit up and take notice. The health risks appear to be very real, and they are heightened by frequent contact with sick animals".
Now 11 years later, the evidence and data are even more concerning and should be considered urgent among our profession.
There are too many of us who suffer from vague inflammatory conditions, fibromyalgia like symptoms, complex pain, migraines, psychiatric alterations (anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations), light sensitivity, dizziness, atypical auto-immune, extreme fatigue and MS like disease...you probably personally know someone struggling with one or many of these. We often blame it on the multilayered difficulties/chronic stressors our job entails but what if it’s not...my case is a perfect example.
PLEASE, VETERINARY MEDICINE.... familiarize yourself with some of the newest research and growing concerns surrounding the many clinical manifestations of this zoonotic disease. There is a gap in knowledge within veterinarians and our respective human counterparts (medical doctors). Being able to recognize the difference, know the risks and advocate for an answer is key.
If you do not have time to dive into the research then please read the informative brochure on bartonella below. This is the most up to date summary, created in 2021 by Galaxy Advanced Microbial Diagnostics, a laboratory already in use within Veterinary Medicine (by way of IDEXX when ordering a bartonella panel on our animal patients)
Detection of Bartonella Species in the Blood of Veterinarians and Veterinary Technicians: A Newly Recognized Occupational Hazard? Journal of Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, 2014
Bartonellosis: an emerging infectious disease of zoonotic importance to animals and human beings. Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, 2010
Rheumatological presentation of Bartonella koehlerae and Bartonella henselae bacteremias. A case report, 2018 (also listed in Rheumatologic Manifestations)
Bartonella species in blood of immunocompetent persons with animal and arthropod contact. Emerging infectious diseases, 2007
Suicides among veterinarians become a growing problem. Washington Post, 2019
Did Bartonella henselae contribute to the deaths of two veterinarians?Parasites & vectors, 2015
Prevalence of Bartonella spp. by culture, PCR and serology, in veterinary personnel from Spain. Parasites & vectors, 2017
Shedding Light on an Emerging Infectious Disease. NC State, 2017
Bartonella: Quantifying new risks to veterinarians, patients. DVM 360, National Report, 2010
Germ that causes cat scratch disease not necessarily mild: Veterinary professionals at risk of Bartonella infections. Veterinary Information Network 2010
Updated Routes of Transmission
Jarisch-Herxheimer Reactions (Can occur in animals and humans-Coming soon)
Didactic Lectures Presented by Dr. Breitschwerdt:
CME credit is available for medical professionals but anyone can create an account to attend these webinars for free.
1.0 CME. Provides an overview of the history of Bartonella spp infection, It describes the medically relevant history of bartonelloses prior to the recognition of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) epidemic in the 1980’s. Gives an overview of medical history associated with the discovery of Cat Scratch Disease and the eventual identification of Bartonella henselae as the definitive causative agent.
1.0 CME. Provides an overview of key vectors and modes of transmission associated with Bartonella spp. infection, with special attention to ongoing debates surrounding tick transmission, perinatal transmission, and other modes, like transfusion and needlesticks.
1.0 CME. Provides an overview of Bartonella spp. infection, both pathogenic and species-adapted, in various hosts and reservoirs, including bats, cats, dogs, and people.
1.0 CME. Introduces a new postulate of comparative infectious disease for elusive, slow-growing, zoonotic, vector-borne diseases like Bartonella spp infection and describes the comparative features of Bartonellosis in dogs and people with particular attention to geographic and occupational risk factors.
1.0 CME/ 1 AAFP: Provides an overview of the major factors that influence disease expression resulting from Bartonella spp infection with particular attention to bacterial infection strategies and the histopathological progression of lesions observed in both immunocompetent and severely immunodeficient patients.
1.0 CME/ 1AAFP: Describes the advantages and limitations of different diagnostic methodologies for confirmation of Bartonella spp. infection, as well as recent advances in sample enrichment for direct detection of infection of this immune-evasive, slow-growing bacterial infection.
Visit Galaxy Diagnostics Website for more information.
Image and statistical information attained at GalaxyDX.com