Bartonellosis: An Emerging Infectious Disease of Zoonotic Importance to Animals and Humans This Emerging Infectious Disease Threatens Both Animals and Humans

By Dr. Edward B. Breitschwerdt, DVM

O ver the past three decades, substantial scientific evidence has begun to elucidate the emerging biomedical importance of the genus Bartonella and the disease bartonellosis. Our team of comparative infectious disease researchers at the North Carolina State University Intracellular Pathogens Research Laboratory has generated scientific publications related to bartonellosis in cats, cows, dogs, dolphins, horses, human beings, river otters, sea turtles, sheep, whales, and other wildlife species. The evolving research findings from around the world have left me with the following question:

Is Bartonellosis a modern-day hidden epidemic?

If so, how could a disease of epidemic proportions involving both animals and human patients be missed or remain hidden from diagnosticians, other scientists, physicians, and veterinarians for more than 100 years or perhaps an even a much longer period of medical history? How much pain and suffering could have been avoided if the “hidden epidemic” called bartonellosis had been discovered sooner? What has been the emotional, medical, occupational, and financial impact of historically undiscovered Bartonella species (now 38 named or candidatus species have been characterized) infections among patients with bartonellosis throughout the world?

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