What is the usual cause 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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Catscratch disease is usually caused by B henselae, formerly known as Rochalimaea henselae. B henselae is a small, fastidious, slow-growing, gram-negative, aerobic, nonmotile, pleomorphic bacillus. In the genus Bartonella, B bacilliformis, B quintana, B elizabethae, B vinsonii, and B koehlerae are also responsible for human disease. B clarridgeiae, has rarely been associated with cases of CSD.

Studies have demonstrated B henselae seropositivity rates ranging from 3.1-61.6% in the general population, depending on the country in which the study was performed. In all instances, few patients ever experienced symptoms, suggesting that only a minority of exposures to B henselae result in CSD.

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