Wildlife Disease and Zoonotics


Date of this Version

April 2004


Published in Vet. Res. 35 (2004) 233–241. © INRA, EDP Sciences, 2004. Used by permission.


Bartonella henselae is the main agent of cat scratch disease in humans and domestic cats are the main reservoir of this bacterium. We conducted a serosurvey to investigate the role of American wild felids as a potential reservoir of Bartonella species. A total of 479 samples (439 serum samples and 40 Nobuto strips) collected between 1984 and 1999 from pumas (Felis concolor) and 91 samples (58 serum samples and 33 Nobuto strips) collected from bobcats (Lynx rufus) in North America, Central America and South America were screened for B. henselae antibodies. The overall prevalence of B. henselae antibodies was respectively 19.4% in pumas and 23.1% in bobcats, with regional variations. In the USA, pumas from the southwestern states were more likely to be seropositive for B. henselae (prevalence ratio (PR) = 2.82, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.55, 5.11) than pumas from the Northwest and Mountain states. Similarly, adults were more likely to be B. henselae seropositive than juveniles and kittens (PR = 1.77, 95% CI = 1.07, 2.93). Adult pumas were more likely to have higher B. henselae antibody titers than juveniles and kittens (p= 0.026). B. henselae antibody prevalence was 22.4% (19/85) in bobcats from the USA and 33.3% (2/6) in the Mexican bobcats. In the USA, antibody prevalence varied depending on the geographical origin of the bobcats. In California, the highest prevalence was in bobcats from the coastal range (37.5%). These results suggest a potential role of wild felids in the epidemiological cycle of Bartonella henselae or closely related Bartonella species.