Bartonellosis is a zoonotic infectious disease of worldwide distribution, caused by an expanding number of recently discovered Bartonella spp.
This review serves as an update on comparative medical aspects of this disease, including the epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical diagnosis, treatment and challenges.
Of comparative medical importance, Bartonella spp. are transmitted by several arthropod vectors, including fleas, keds, lice, sand flies, ticks and, potentially, mites and spiders. Prior to 1990, there was only one named Bartonella species (B. bacilliformis), whereas there are now over 36, of which 17 have been associated with an expanding spectrum of animal and human diseases. Recent advances in diagnostic techniques have facilitated documentation of chronic bloodstream and dermatological infections with Bartonella spp. in healthy and sick animals, in human blood donors, and in immunocompetent and immunocompromised human patients. The field of Bartonella research remains in its infancy and is rich in questions, for which patient relevant answers are badly needed. Directed Bartonella research could substantially reduce a spectrum of chronic and debilitating animal and human diseases, and thereby reduce suffering throughout the world.
A One Health approach to this emerging infectious disease is clearly needed to define disease manifestations, to establish the comparative infectious disease pathogenesis of this stealth pathogen, to validate effective treatment regimens and to prevent zoonotic disease transmission.