Is Bartonella a player in feline stomatitis? (Proceedings)


Is Bartonella a player in feline stomatitis? (Proceedings)

Apr 01, 2009


• Update on Bartonella spp as a "rediscovered" etiologic agent in human, canine and feline disease

• Discuss etiology and epidemiology of Bartonella spp in our feline population

• Provide results of a study evaluating the association between feline stomatitis and bartonellosis

Key Points

Bartonella spp. are being recognized as re-emerging human pathogens

• The zoonotic potential of Bartonella spp. makes this an important concern for cat owners

• The majority of cats with bartonellosis are asymptomatic

Bartonella spp. have been the proposed etiologic agents resulting in clinical signs in cats, including uveitis, endocarditis, gingivitis, stomatitis, and lymphadenopathy.

• The high prevalence rate of Bartonella positive in healthy cats makes it difficult to determine cause and effect of disease relative to Bartonella status

• Preliminary results suggest that there is not an association between Bartonella and stomatitis

• Other infectious or immune causes of stomatitis should be considered prior to specific anti-Bartonella therapy


Bartonellosis is an important emerging disease in humans and has been recognized to cause clinical disease in several other species, including dogs and cats. Bartonella henselae is the primary etiologic agent in Cat Scratch Disease, which causes fever and lymphadenopathy in humans. Bartonella spp. can result in more serious pathology in humans including bacillary angiomatosis and bacillary peliosis, especially in immunosuppressed individuals. For these reasons, Bartonella spp. pose a zoonotic risk. Cats are often asymptomatic carriers for B. henselae and B. clarridgeiae. Whether these agents, or other Bartonella spp., cause clinical disease in cats is currently being investigated.


Bartonella spp. are transmitted primarily via arthropod vectors, which vary depending on the species. Fleas are thought to be the primary vector for Bartonella henselae and B. clarridgeiae in cats, which is supported by the higher prevalence of Bartonella positive cats from flea regions. Cats may clear the organism, but may also become asymptomatic carriers with intermittent episodes of bacteremia. Seroprevalence rates range from 5% - 90% of cats, depending on the region of interest.