U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs


Date of this Version


Document Type



Clinical Infectious Diseases, Vol. 26, No. 6 (Jun., 1998), pp. 1300-1301.


Of the five Bartonella species associated with disease in himans, B. henselae causes the widest spectrum of pathology, including disease with granulomatous features (cat-scratch disease), vascular proliferative features (bacillary angiomatosis-peliosis, BA-BP), and a predominantly intravascular focus (bacteremia-endocarditis). In the wake of the initial detection of B. henselae and its laboratory propagation in 1990, investigators have learned that B. henselae is distributed world-wide; that cats are reservoirs for the organism; that fleas are vectors for transmission among cats; and that B. henselae like other Bartonella species, establishes an intimate and persistent relationship within the bloodstream of its hosts. Yet, we understand little about the diversity and population structure of B. henselae and the genetic basis for its pathogenicity. In this regard, the key questions are whether a small number of clonal types account for a disproportionate amount of disease, whether some clonal types are more likely than others to cause a particular type of pathology, whether there is a restricted geographic distribution of specific clonal types, and what is the possible genetic basis of type-specific differences in virulence.