Oral shedding of Bartonella in cats: Correlation with bacteremia and seropositivity

David Y. Namekata, Rickie W. Kasten, Dawn A. Boman, Mary H. Straub, Laurie Siperstein-Cook, Karen Couvelaire, Bruno B Chomel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Cats are the main reservoirs of zoonotic Bartonella henselae, B. clarridgeiae and B. koehlerae, transmitted among cats by cat fleas. No study has investigated the presence of Bartonella in the saliva of bacteremic and non-bacteremic cats to correlate it to the level of bacteremia and the presence or absence of oral lesions. Shelter cats from northern California (n= 130) and Michigan (n= 50) were tested for Bartonella bacteremia by blood culture, presence of Bartonella antibodies and Bartonella DNA in oral swabs. Bacteremia was detected in 45 (25%) cats, mainly from northern California (n= 40), which were highly flea infested and were 4 times more likely to be bacteremic than the non-flea-infested cats from Michigan. Overall, 69 (38.3%) cats had Bartonella PCR positive oral swabs. Bacteremic cats were almost 3 times (P= 0.003) more likely to have PCR positive oral swabs (59%, 26/44) than non-bacteremic cats (32.5%, 44/135). However, there was no correlation between cats being bacteremic and having oral lesions. Antibody prevalences for B. henselae and B. clarridgeiae were 30% and 42.8%. B. henselae and B. clarridgeiae seropositive cats were almost 4 times (P= 0.0001) and 3 times (P= 0.003) more likely to have oral lesions than seronegative cats. Despite a higher prevalence (odds ratio. = 1.73; 95% confidence interval. = 0.88-3.38) of oral lesions in cats with oral swabs testing PCR positive, no statistical association could be demonstrated in this cat population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-375
Number of pages5
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 15 2010


  • Bartonella henselae
  • Cat
  • DNA
  • Oral swab

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • veterinary(all)


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