What is the role of feline infection with Bartonella (B) henselae in the pathogenesis of cat scratch disease (CSD)?

Updated: Feb 16, 2021
  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Feline infection with B henselae is common and asymptomatic. In the United States, 28% of surveyed cats had antibodies against the organism. In California, blood cultures were positive in 56% of domestic cats younger than 1 year and in 34% of cats older than 1 year. More than three fourths of all cats in California had antibodies to B henselae as evidence of prior infection; however, only 21% of pet cats were bacteremic, compared with 61% of stray cats.

A similar survey of cats in the Baltimore area found seropositivity in 12-14% of domestic cats versus 44% of feral animals. Cats can be asymptomatically bacteremic for months, even while antibody titers are developing.

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