Bartonella henselae IgG antibodies are prevalent in dogs from southeastern USA

Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, 4700 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27606, USA.
Veterinary Research (Impact Factor: 2.82). 09/2004; 35(5):585-95. DOI: 10.1051/vetres:2004034
Source: PubMed


In contrast to the large body of literature regarding Bartonella henselae in humans and cats, there is little information about B. henselae as an infectious agent in dogs. Due to the paucity of information regarding the B. henselae serology in dogs, we performed a cross-sectional serosurvey using B. henselae antigen in order to compare the seroprevalence between sick and healthy dogs from the south-eastern USA. Ninety-nine sera were collected from clinically healthy dogs. Three hundred and one sera from sick dogs were submitted to North Carolina State University for serologic screening against a panel of arthropod-transmitted organisms. Serological tests were performed using B. henselae (Bh), Rickettsia rickettsii (Rr), Ehrlichia canis (Ec), Bartonella vinsonii subspecies berkhoffii (Bvb), Babesia canis (Bc) and Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) antigens. Serum B. henselae IgG antibodies were detected in 10.1% of healthy dogs and in 27.2% of sick dogs. The difference in seroprevalence between the two groups was statistically significant. The majority of seroreactive dogs (80%) had low titers of 1:64 or 1:128. In healthy dogs, seroprevalence for Rr was 14.1% and for Bvb was 1%. In sick dogs, Rr seroprevalence was 29.7%, Ec 6.5%, Bvb 4.7%, Bb 1.7% and Bc was 0.85%. Of the sick dogs that were seroreactive to B. henselae antigens, 40.6% were also seroreactive to Rr, 15.0% reactive to Bvb antigens, 14.8% reactive to Ec antigens, 1.8% reactive to Bc antigens and 1.75% reactive to Bb antigens. Sera from dogs experimentally infected with B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii, E. canis or R. rickettsii did not cross react with B. henselae antigens, by IFA testing. This study indicates that B. henselae IgG antibodies are prevalent in healthy and sick dogs living in the south-eastern USA. Nevertheless, further studies are needed to evaluate the epidemiological, clinical and zoonotic relevance of B. henselae infection in dogs.

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    • "The main limitation to PCR testing is the requirement for adequate template (nucleic acid of the target organism) in the patient sample to achieve amplification of the target DNA sequence. For vector-borne pathogens such as Anaplasma spp., B. burgdorferi, and Bartonella spp., it is well documented that the number of intravascular organisms fluctuates over time following transmission [10,11,13,14]; therefore, PCR testing at a single time point may produce a false negative result for an infected patient. Some other technical disadvantages of PCR-based testing include potential false negative results due to the presence of PCR inhibitors that were not removed during the nucleic acid purification process and the potential for laboratory contamination resulting in false positive reactions in patients that are not infected. "
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    • "As there does not appear to be cross reactivity between Bartonella and Rickettsia spp., these results may be attributed to simultaneous or sequential transmission of Bartonella and Rickettsia organisms to dogs by arthropod vectors [18,19]. A previous serosurvey study from our laboratory found a statistical association between seroreactivity to B. henselae and R. rickettsii antigens [20]. B. henselae is transmitted to cats and dogs [21] by Ctenocephalides felis, the common cat flea, which also transmits Rickettsia felis[22]. "
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