2020 Jan 16;34:100652. doi: 10.1016/j.nmni.2020.100652. eCollection 2020 Mar.

Bartonella vinsonii subsp. arupensis infection in animals of veterinary importance, ticks and biopsy samples.


Testing for vector-borne pathogens in livestock is largely reliant upon blood and tissue. The role of biopsy samples remains poorly explored for detecting tick-borne bacteria in animals. In a 2-year survey, animals of veterinary importance from farms throughout the northern part of Greece were routinely checked for the presence of biopsy samples. Where detected, either a portion or a biopsy was collected together with whole blood samples and any ticks at the site of the biopsy sample. Molecular testing was carried out by real-time PCR targeting the internal transcribed spacer gene of Bartonella species. A total of 68 samples (28 blood samples, 28 biopsy samples and 12 ticks (nine Rhipicephalus bursa and three Rhipicephalus turanicus)) were collected from goats (64 samples) and cattle (four samples).

  • Eight (11.8%) of the 68 samples were positive for Bartonella species.
  • Of the biopsy and whole blood samples, four (14.3%) of each type were positive for Bartonella species.
  • None of the ticks tested positive for Bartonella species.
  • All pairs of positive biopsy samples/whole blood samples originated from the same animals.
  • Positive samples were identified as

Although many more samples from a much wider spectrum of animal species is required before concluding upon the merit of biopsy samples in the study of tick-borne diseases, the significance of our finding warrants further study, both for clinical consequences in small ruminants and for those humans who are farming infected animals.



Bartonella vinsonii subsp. arupensis has been found in humans:


B. vinsonii subsp. arupensis was first isolated from a bacteremic cattle rancher in Wyoming, USA, in 1999 (). Later studies showed that strains identical to B. vinsonii subsp. arupensis were highly prevalent among deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus), a strictly North American rodent species frequently found across a wide geographic area, including Wyoming. Similar strains of B. vinsonii subsp. arupensis have not been found in other animals in North America, suggesting that deer mice are natural hosts of this bacterium ().

However, the proposed link between infected mice and B. vinsonii subsp. arupensis infection in humans was challenged when this bacterium was reported in an endocarditis patient in France () and 2 febrile patients in Russia (). The link was further disputed after identification of B. vinsonii subsp. arupensis infection in 2 humans in Thailand () and the subsequent inability to identify this strain or related species among the local rodent population, despite intensive investigation in different parts of Thailand (). B. vinsonii subsp. arupensis was also identified in stray dogs in Thailand (). In addition, B. vinsonii subsp. arupensis–specific antibodies were reported in febrile patients from Nepal (). Together, these reports suggest that the spectrum of animal hosts carrying B. vinsonii subsp. arupensis may be underestimated. We report the identification of B. vinsonii subsp. arupensis in 4 more patients in Thailand.

The 1999 study on the discovery of Bartonella vinsonii subs. arupensis in the human cattle rancher states this:


The highest level of relatedness was observed with recently characterized strains from naturally infected mice that were coinfected with Borrelia burgdorferi and Babesia microti. We propose the name Bartonella vinsonii subsp. arupensis subsp. nov. as the new subspecies to accommodate these human and murine isolates.

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