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Bartonellosis: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About bartonellosis

Bartonellosis constitutes a group of diseases caused by bacteria belonging to bartonella species. The various diseases include cat-scratch disease which is the commonest and others like Oroya fever and Trench fever.

Bartonellosis: Incidence, age and sex

The incidence of Bartonellosis is very low in the general population. Cat-scratch disease is the most common out of all the diseases constituting bartonellosis. Oroya fever is common in certain parts of South America.

Signs and symptoms of bartonellosis: Diagnosis

The clinical features of bartonellosis depend upon the disease by which an individual is afflicted. Cat-scratch disease is the commonest presentation seen in Bartonellosis and is characterised by fever with chills in mild forms. Enlarged lymph nodes in the arm, the neck and groin along with high fever, skin rashes may be seen if the disease progresses. The offending bacteria are seen in cats, mainly kittens and transmitted either by direct contact or through ticks and fleas. It is a self-limiting disease in most individuals.

Other diseases of bartonellosis include Trench fever, Oroyo fever, angiomatosis, endocarditis and encephalopathy. Trench fever is mainly seen in alcoholics and may present with fever, skin rashes, and muscle and joint pains. Oroyo fever is extremely rare and characterised by fever, breathlessness, haemolytic anaemia, ulcerative skin lesions and seizures. Angiomatosis is another presentation of bartonellosis afflicting mainly HIV positive individuals characterised by skin lesions and enlarged spleen and liver. The diagnosis of bartonellosis can be established by serological testing and lymph node biopsy.

Causes and prevention of bartonellosis

Bartonellosis is caused by bacteria belonging to bartonella species of which Bartonella henselae results in cat-scratch disease which is the commonest presentation. Cats are the reservoirs of this disease. Humans get infected with cat-scratch disease by being in direct contact with infected cats or can also be transmitted through ticks and fleas. Alcoholics, individuals with poor hygiene, vets and HIV positive people are most susceptible to get this infection.

Bartonellosis: Complications

The infection of bartonellosis may spread in blood resulting in bacteraemia which is a serious condition needing immediate medical attention. There are high chances of mortality in untreated individuals. Recurrences of this disease are commonly seen.

Bartonellosis: Treatment

The medications like antibiotics especially erythromycin or doxycycline for long periods are most effective treatment. Cat-scratch disease is self limiting and may need antibiotic drugs only in a handful of individuals. In certain instances like endocarditis, surgical intervention may be needed if antibiotic drugs seem ineffective.