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First isolation and genotyping of Bartonella henselae from a cat living with a patient with cat scratch disease in Southeast Europe

  • Stepanić, Maja1
  • Duvnjak, Sanja1
  • Reil, Irena1
  • Špičić, Silvio1
  • Kompes, Gordan1
  • Beck, Relja1
  • 1 Department for Bacteriology and Parasitology, Croatian Veterinary Institute, Savska cesta 143, Zagreb, 10000, Croatia , Zagreb (Croatia)
Published Article
BMC Infectious Diseases
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Apr 02, 2019
DOI: 10.1186/s12879-019-3929-z
Springer Nature


BackgroundThe bacterial genus Bartonella is distributed worldwide and poses a public health risk. Cat-scratch disease caused by B. henselae in Croatia was first described in 1957. It is present throughout the country: a survey of serum samples from 268 Croatian patients with lymphadenopathy showed that 37.7% had IgG antibodies. Despite this prevalence, we are unaware of reports of Bartonella culturing from infected humans or cats in Croatia or elsewhere in southeast Europe.Case presentationHere we describe the diagnosis of a 12-year-old child with lymphadenopathy in Croatia with cat-scratch disease based on antibody detection and clinical signs, and the subsequent culturing and genotyping of B.henselae from the cat’s blood. The B. henselae isolate was grown on different blood agar plates and its identity was confirmed based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of 16S ribosomal deoxyribonucleic acid (16S rDNA) and sequencing. Multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) identified the strain genotype as sequence type 5, commonly found zoonotic B. henselae strain in cats. The child recovered after azithromycin therapy, and B. henselae in the cat was eliminated within three months after doxycycline treatment.ConclusionsThis is, to our knowledge, the first report of B. henselae culturing and MLST-based genotyping from cat’s blood in southeast Europe. Our ability to detect B. henselae in blood through culturing but not PCR suggests that the prevalence of infected cats with low bacteremia is very high, suggesting the need to develop faster, more sensitive detection assays.

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