2019 May 22. doi: 10.1007/s10067-019-04591-5. [Epub ahead of print]

The seroprevalence of Bartonella spp. in the blood of patients with musculoskeletal complaints and blood donors, Poland: a pilot study.



Bartonella spp. can cause a variety of diseases, such as lymphadenopathies, cat scratch disease, and trench fever, but can also give rise to many non-specific symptoms. No data exists regarding the prevalence of Bartonella spp. in patients with musculoskeletal complaints, nor among blood donors in Poland.


The presence of anti-Bartonella IgM and IgG in the serum of blood donors (n = 65) (Lodz, Poland) and in the patients of the Department of Rheumatology Clinic (n = 40) suffering from musculoskeletal symptoms was tested by immunofluorescence. Blood samples were cultured on enriched media. Epidemiological questionnaires were used to identify key potential risk factors, such as sex, age, contact with companion animals, and bites from insects or animals.



  • 27 of the 105 tested subjects were seropositive for Bartonella henselae IgG (23%)
  • 3 for Bartonella quintana IgG (2.85%)
  • IgMs against B. henselae were found in 3 individuals (2.85%)
  • IgMs against B. quintana were found in one (1.54%)

No statistically significant difference was found between the prevalence of B. henselae in the blood of donors or patients and the presence of unexplained musculoskeletal complaints (23% vs 30%). Individuals who had kept or been scratched by cats were not more likely to be B. henselae seropositive (p > 0.01). Tick bites were more commonly reported in patients, but insignificantly (p > 0.01).


This is the first report of a high seroprevalence of anti-Bartonella IgG in patients with musculoskeletal symptoms and in blood donors in Poland. The obtained results indicate that such seroprevalence may have a possible significance in the development of musculoskeletal symptoms, although it should be confirmed on a larger group of patients. Asymptomatic bacteremia might occur and pose a threat to recipients of blood from infected donors. Hence, there is a need for more detailed research, including molecular biology methods, to clarify the potential risk of Bartonella spp. being spread to immunocompromised individuals.


•This is the first study presenting high seroprevalence of Bartonella spp. in Poland. • IgG and IgM antibodies against B. quintana were found in blood samples of blood donors.