Molecular assessment of Bartonella in Gerbillus nanus from Saudi Arabia reveals high levels of prevalence, diversity and co-infection.

Kleynhans DJ, et al. Infect Genet Evol. 2018.


Bartonellae bacteria are associated with several re-emerging human diseases. These vector-borne pathogens have a global distribution, yet data on Bartonella prevalence and diversity in the Arabian Peninsula are limited. In this study we assessed the Bartonella infection status of the Baluchistan gerbil (Gerbillus nanus), a species associated with pastoral communities throughout the Middle East region, using a multi-gene PCR screening approach.

The results demonstrated that 94 (68.1%) of the 138 gerbils trapped on a monthly basis, over a period of one year, were PCR-positive. Sequencing of the gltA gene region confirmed the presence of four discrete Bartonella lineages (I-IV) and high levels of co-infection (33.0%). Each of the four lineages, varied in overall abundance (7.5%-47.9%) and had discernible seasonal peaks. Bartonella status was significantly correlated with ectoparasite presence, but not with sex, nor with season. Statistical analyses further revealed that co-infected individuals had a significantly higher relative body condition. Multi-locus sequence analysis (MLSA) performed with a concatenated dataset of three genetic loci (gltA, nuoG, and rpoB), 1452 nucleotides (nt) in length confirmed that lineage IV, which occurred in 24 PCR-positive animals (25.5%), is most closely related to zoonotic B. elizabethae. The remaining three lineages (I-III) formed a monophyletic clade which, on the basis of gltA was shown to contain bartonellae from diverse Gerbillinae species from the Middle East, suggestive of a gerbil-associated species complex in this region. Lineage I was identical to a Candidatus B. sanaae strain identified previously in Bushy-tailed jirds (Sekeetamys calurus) from Egypt, wherease MLSA indicate that lineages II and III are novel. The high levels of infection and co-infection, together with the presence of multiple Bartonella lineages indicate that Gerbillus nanus is likely a natural reservoir of Bartonella in the Arabian Peninsula.



Bartonella is highly prevalent in Lyme/MSIDS patients, yet, mainstream medicine isn’t even looking at it.  If they do look at it they make the mistake of downplaying its significance.  This article is yet another example of its proliferation and presence.  Ticks are also ectoparasites yet many deny its ability to transmit Bartonella.  This issue needs to be resolved; however, since so many Lyme/MSIDS patients have it, it’s either transmitted directly from ticks OR the tick bite and subsequent immune suppression causes asymptomatic cases to reactivate.  Either way, it is an important issue.  Fifteen species of gram-negative aerobic Bartonella are known to infect humans; however Dr. Ricardo Maggi’s statement is quite telling, “This case reinforces the hypothesis that any Bartonella species can cause human infection.”  If you suspect Bartonella, print off and fill out this checklist.  While the symptoms are many and varied, my husband had unexplained and sudden anxiety, irritability, rage, sudden knee-jerk reactions, skin tags & severe itching, and we both felt as if someone beat the bottoms of our feet with a hammer.  Proper treatment ameliorated all of these symptoms.