Med Sci Monit. 2014 Jun 5;20:927-31. doi: 10.12659/MSM.890149.

Bacterial tick-borne diseases caused by Bartonella spp., Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, Coxiella burnetii, and Rickettsia spp. among patients with cataract surgery.

Chmielewski T1, Brydak-Godowska J2, Fiecek B1, Rorot U2, Sędrowicz E2, Werenowska M2, Kopacz D2,

Hevelke A3, Michniewicz M2, Kęcik D2, Tylewska-Wierzbanowska S1.

Author information

  • 1Laboratory of Rickettsiae, Chlamydiae and Spirochetes, National Institute of Public Heath - National Institute
  • of Hygiene, Warsaw, Poland.
  • 2Department of Ophthalmology, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland.
  • 3Department of Histology, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland.


Clinical data have shown that tick-borne diseases caused by Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, Bartonella spp., Coxiella burnetii, and Rickettsia spp. can affect the central nervous system, including the eye.

The aim of this study was to establish a relationship between the incidence of cataract and evidence of bacterial infections transmitted by ticks.

Fluid with lenticular masses from inside of the eye and blood from 109 patients were tested by PCR and sequencing.

Sera from patients and the control group were subjected to serological tests to search specific antibodies to the bacteria.

Microbiological analysis revealed the presence of Bartonella sp. DNA in intraoperative specimens from the eye in 1.8% of patients.

Serological studies have shown that infections caused by B. burgdorferi sensu lato and Bartonella sp. were detected in 34.8% and 4.6% of patients with cataract surgery, respectively.

Presence of DNA of yet uncultured and undescribed species of Bartonella in eye liquid indicates past infection with this pathogen. Specific antibodies to B. burgdorferi sensu lato and Bartonella sp. are detected more frequently in patients with cataract compared to the control group.

This could indicate a possible role of these organisms in the pathological processes within the eyeball, leading to changes in the lens. Further studies are needed to identify Bartonella species, as well as to recognize the infectious mechanisms involved in cataract development.

PMID: 24902636 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] PMCID: PMC4049946 Free PMC Article

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Lucy Barnes