Impact of queen infection on kitten susceptibility to different strains of Bartonella henselae

Drew A. Fleischman, Bruno B Chomel, Katlin Burgos, Rickie W. Kasten, Matthew J. Stuckey, Monica R. Durden, Hannah Mirrashed, Pedro Paulo V P Diniz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Domestic cats are the natural reservoir of Bartonella henselae, the agent of cat scratch disease in humans. In kittens, maternal IgG antibodies are detectable within two weeks postpartum, weaning in six to ten weeks postpartum and kittens as young as six to eight weeks old can become bacteremic in a natural environment. The study's objective was to evaluate if maternal antibodies against a specific B. henselae strain protect kittens from infection with the same strain or a different strain from the same genotype. Three seronegative and Bartonella-free pregnant queens were infected with the same strain of B. henselae genotype II during pregnancy. Kittens from queens #1 and #2 were challenged with the same strain used to infect the queens while kittens from queen #3 were challenged with a different genotype II strain. All queens gave birth to non-bacteremic kittens. After challenge, all kittens from queens infected with the same strain seroconverted, with six out of the seven kittens presenting no to very low levels of transitory bacteremia. Conversely, all four kittens challenged with a different strain developed high bacteremia (average 47,900. CFU/mL by blood culture and 146,893. bacteria/mL by quantitative PCR). Overall, qPCR and bacterial culture were in good agreement for all kittens (Kappa Cohen's agreement of 0.78). This study demonstrated that young kittens can easily be infected with a different strain of B. henselae at a very young age, even in the presence of maternal antibodies, underlining the importance of flea control in pregnant queens and young kittens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-272
Number of pages5
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Nov 18 2015


  • Bartonella henselae
  • Challenge
  • Culture
  • Kittens
  • Pregnant cats
  • Real-time PCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • veterinary(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Impact of queen infection on kitten susceptibility to different strains of Bartonella henselae'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this