Bartonella

A Serious Disease With Potentially Serious Consequences

by Lucy Barnes

Original article- November 2008 

(Updated May 2015, December 2015, July 2016, December 2016) 

Bartonella henselae and Bartonella quintana, sometimes referred to as “cat-scratch” and “trench” fever respectively, are two types of intracellular gram negative bacteria which can cause severe, chronic health issues and sudden death.  Maryland residents are at high risk for exposure to various Bartonella bacteria.     

Possible signs and symptoms-  Typically a gradual onset of symptoms.  Central nervous system symptoms (muscle twitches, insomnia, mood swings, anxiety, antisocial behavior, tremors, irritability and seizures) are often more prominent and severe than other symptoms.  

Fatigue, dizziness, stiff legs, pain in feet (especially bottoms of feet- worse early in the morning), sweats, restlessness, myalgias, migrating pain (can be extreme) in and around joints,  heart attacks, heart valve problems, endocarditis (mortality 25%), cardiomegaly, strokes, skin rashes (including "stretch mark" like rashes), skin tags, burning and crawling sensations.  

Aseptic meningitis, encephalopathy, fever (often low-grade), panic attacks, liver or spleen abnormalities, low-grade fever, abscesses, hot flashes, muscle cramps, confusion, abdominal pain, hepatitis, seizures (mild to severe), numbness in hands, rage, depression, misophonia, difficulty walking, facial numbness, wandering (usually unilateral) joint pain, urinary disorders, or arthritis can be present.  Tender sub-cutaneous nodules may appear along the outer thigh, triceps shins and other areas of the extremities. 

Some patients experience acute and relapsing symptom patterns, painful headaches, lymphadenopathy, GI symptoms (gastritis, abdominal pain), cognitive dysfunction, joint swelling, CNS lesions, red splotches or slightly raised red spots on skin, lymph node swelling, skin manifestations (acne, stretch marks, subcutaneous nodules) and spider veins.

Patients may also experience bone pain- especially in shins (Bartonella quintana, aka shin bone fever) and along the rib cage, chest wall pain, ice-pick pain sensations in head, mild sore throat, bladder inflammation or IC, softening of bone, bone infections, radiculitis, difficulty swallowing, transverse myelitis, polyneuropathy, slurred speech, elevated liver enzymes, gall bladder dysfunction, crusty scalp, respiratory complications, personality disorders, bipolar disorder, irregular pulse, and an array of eye related problems such as raccoon eyes (dark circles under/around eyes)dry eyes, conjunctivitis, neuroretinitis and a distortion or loss of vision.

Bartonella symptoms may wax and wane or appear to be in remission. Symptoms may return quickly if treatment is discontinued too soon.  See the "Ask The Experts" 2016 article with more Bartonella symptoms and photos. 

If not treated properly in the early stages, Bartonella can become a disabling condition that can be expensive and difficult to treat.  Bartonella has been misdiagnosed or mistaken for vasculitis, breast cancer, hepatitis, Kaposi’s sarcoma, splenic lymphoma and a variety of neurological and psychiatric illnesses.  People infected with Bartonella may also be coinfected with one or more of the 300 plus known Lyme strains, viruses and/or additional tick or vector borne diseases.



Bartonella rash forming shortly after a deer fly bite.






More Bartonella Rash Photos- Click Here

More Bartonella and Tick Borne Disease Rash Photos- Click Here

Bartonella organisms have been detected in ticks, fleas, cats, mice, rats, voles, pigs, dogs, ear mites, lice, flies, bobcats, elk, animal saliva, dust mites, dolphins, striped skunks, raccoons, mountain lions, bats, leeches, bed bugs, monkeys, bandicoots, mardos, deer, squirrels, coyotes, red foxes, golden jackals, rock hyraxes, southern white-breasted hedgehogs, Cairo spiny mice, Tristram's jirds and house mice. 

Research is needed to determine if there are additional carriers, transmitters and more unidentified species of Bartonella.  Physicians must be trained to look for Bartonella infections in their patients and accurate tests must be developed to detect Bartonella species in both animals and humans.

Testing:  Important-  Treat the patient, not the test!  

Galaxy Lab  

Quest Diagnostics: Bartonella Species Antibody (IGG, IGM) with Reflex to Titers- Code 34251x 

Treatment:  There is no one-size-fits-all treatment protocol for Bartonella infections.  Doxycycline, rifampin, ciprofloxacin, erythromycin, tetracycline, clarithromycin, azithromycin or combinations of antibiotics have been used with varying degrees of success.  Retreatment is often necessary in long standing cases.  To help locate a treating doctor in your area, please go to www.LymeDoc.org

Dr. Burrascano's Treatment Guidelines-  Please read the guidelines in full. They can be found by clicking here

QUOTE-  "The drug of choice to treat BLO is levofloxacin. Levofloxacin is usually never used for Lyme or Babesia, so many patients who have tick-borne diseases, and who have been treated for them but remain ill, may in fact be infected with BLO. Treatment consist of 500 mg daily (may be adjusted based on body weight) for at least one month. Treat for three months or longer in the more ill patient. It has been suggested that levofloxacin may be more effective in treating this infection if a proton pump inhibitor is added in standard doses.

Another subtlety is that certain antibiotic combinations seem to inhibit the action of levofloxacin, while others seem to be neutral. I advise against using an erythromycin-like drug, as clinically such patients do poorly. On the other hand, combinations with cephalosporins, penicillins and tetracyclines are okay. 

Alternatives to levofloxacin include rifampin, gentamicin and possibly streptomycin. A very recent article suggests that prior use of quinine-like drugs including atovaquone (Mepron, Malarone) may render Levaquin less effective. Therefore, in a co-infected patient, treat the BLO before you address Babesia species."  

Dr. Joseph Burrascano's Guidelines Here

Special note- Bartonella bacteremia has been detected in 89% beef cattle tested from Oklahoma and 17% of dairy cattle from California.  Recently, a study by the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University reported finding one or more species of bartonella in 82.4% of cattle they tested.

UPDATE- July 2016-  Note from Lyme literate ophthalmologist:  "I usually see Bartonella as the cause of the most severe eye issues. Make sure to take lutein and zeaxanthin and fish oil to further protect your eyes."  Zeaxanthin and lutein information- click here.

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Bartonella And Our Pets

Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

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Dr. James Schaller's 

Checklist for Bartonella 

For free online book, click here 

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Lyme and Bartonellosis

http://www.benbrew.com/lb/lb.html

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Galaxy Lab Presents

Understanding Bartonella 

Free medical education webinar

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Bartonellosis 

Click Here for Article

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Bartonella: Diagnosis and Treatment - A Major Cause of Lyme Disease Complications and Psychiatric Problems (Part 1 of 2)




To purchase the book please click here.







Youtube Videos- Bartonella

BartonellosisEdward Breitschwerdt, DVM- 2014




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