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Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.

What is Bartonella?

This is not a medical condition but is bacteria that live inside your cells. It is referred to as a gram-negative bacterium. This particular type of bacteria can not only infect humans but can also a wide variety of wild animals and mammals. There are different forms of bartonella such as Bartonella Henselae. It was first noted in 1990 and in 1992 it was described as a new species. It is a disease that has been affecting humans for thousands of years.

Some of the other species of bartonella include:

  • A type found in Ecuador, Peru, and Surveys in the Andes Mountains carried by sand flies called B.bacilliformus.
  • Human body lice found worldwide.
  • European sheep tick.
  • In California, nineteen point two percent of the I. pacificus ticks that have been collected, there were five various species of the bartonella bacteria.
  • Trench fever caused by the B.Quintana.

All total there are about twenty-four identified species of this bacteria in which half of them are known to infect humans. In the United States, each year there approximately twenty thousand cases of cat scratch disease, or fever, reported.

Bartonella Symptoms

Generally the symptoms are mild but it can affect your whole body if it is a serious case.

Some of the early signs can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Poor appetite
  • Running a fever
  • Having a headache
  • Having a streaked rash

It is also typical to have swollen glands, especially around your arms, head, and neck. You may also have a sore throat and enlarged lymph nodes. Depending on what type of bartonella you have, there may be other different symptoms.

For cat scratch disease or fever you may have:

  • At the site where you were scratched by a cat or bit by a flea from the cat you may see a papule form after seven days or more. They will usually develop into a pustule.

One to six weeks after the initial infection a person may develop Encephalopathy, which is a disease, disorder, or malfunction of your brain. Approximately fifty percent of the people who develop this symptom will have seizures. It is also possible that a person may have subcutaneous nodules that could possible involve the bone. If a person has these nodules they come be tender, become swollen or enlarged, show some hyperpigmentation, or fester but not all the time.

If a person gets trench fever from the bartonella bacteria they may show symptoms that may include:

  • Headaches
  • Eye inflammations accompanied with pain.
  • Muscles that is achy.


This type of bartonella is normally carried by cats which can cause endocarditis, cat-scratch disease, and other serious diseases in humans. The bartonella bacteria are carried by body lice, ticks, sand flies, mosquitoes, and fleas with ticks a cause of infection in some of the human cases of bartonellosis. It is also possible that intravenous drug users who are sharing the same needle could pass the bartonella bacteria to each other.


If you think that you have bartonella you need to see your physician to get the proper diagnosis so you can get started on the right treatment.

Some of the medications that are used to treat bartonella include:

  • Doxycycline
  • Erythromycin
  • Anzithromycin for children under the age of eighteen.
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Levofloxacin if caused by ticks.

If you have cat scratch disease or fever it will usually resolve itself without having any treatment. The physician can prescribe antibiotics for it but there is very little evidence that taking them will help the duration of the disease to be shortened. If the physician does prescribe antibiotics, the ones prescribed will be:

  • Aminoglycosides
  • Tetracyclines
  • Macrolides

Bartonella Rash

When a person has a case of bartonella, they may develop erythematosus papules, which will be either red spots that are slightly raised or red splotches. Usually this rash will be found more commonly on your head, neck, and upper limbs but can occur occasionally on your lower limbs. They can appear on your mucous membranes or your skin.

Bartonella Rash Pictures

Pictures collection of Bartonella…

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