Bartonella henselae
Debbie Morton

Bartonella henselae is an aerobic gram-negative rod. It is very slow growing. It is the cause of cat scratch fever. To culture this bacterium, it must be cultured on a cell-free medium including rabbit-heart infusion agar plates or various formulation of blood or chocolate agar.

Human endothelial cells infected with Bartonella henselae

How do you get cat scratch fever? It is usually caused by traumatic expose to cats. This exposure includes both cat bites and scratches and this is because the bacteria are found in the cat’s saliva as well as under its claws. Bartonella henselae normally does not affect cats; however cat to cat transmission does rarely occur via ticks or fleas that have come from an infected cat.

Cat scratch fever symptoms include fever, weight loss, skin eruptions, and tender, swollen lymph nodes. The disease will normally cure itself over time which could be months. Drainage of the lymph nodes may be necessary. Antibiotics such as azithromycin and erythromycin are many times used but have no been proven to cure the disease.

To prevent the disease, it is good to wash all cat scratches or bites as well as keeping the cat free of fleas. Disposal of the cat is not necessary for the cat will only carry the bacterium for a limited amount of time. It is also not beneficial to declaw the cat.


*Disclaimer - This report was written by a student participaring in a microbiology course at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. The accuracy of the contents of this report is not guaranteed and it is recommended that you seek additional sources of information to verify the contents.


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