There is now evidence that ticks may be a significant transmitter of the Bartonella infection to humans. A study in California showed that a minimum of 2.3% of a pool of 1253 Ixodes pacificus ticks tested positive for Bartonella. Additionally, it appears that the Dermacentor species of ticks are also capable of transmitting the Bartonella bacteria.
Early symptoms of Bartonella include a red, crusted, elevated skin lesion where the bacteria enters its host (which can mimic the Lyme disease enlarging rash), followed by flu-like symptoms of fever, muscle and joint aches/pains, nausea, vomiting, and chills. Also, enlargement of the lymph nodes around the ears is often present. More serious symptoms include encephalitis, which can result in headaches, dementia, seizures, coma, inflammation of the heart, abdominal pain, bone lesions, and loss of vision. Studies also indicate that some Lyme disease patients are also infected with Bartonella. Treatment with multiple antibiotics is becoming more common in these situations.
The genus Bartonella, a group of small, weakly-staining, gram-negative bacteria, includes two species currently of human medical importance in the United States. These are B. henselae and B. quintana, .
Bartonella Infections in Immunocompromised Patients
Disseminated B. henselae and B. quintana infections may cause several different pathologic entities in immunocompromised patients, most often those with AIDS.
The most common manifestation is bacillary angiomatosis, characterized by protuberant, reddish, berrylike lesions on the skin, often surrounded by a collar of scale.
(Information on this page obtained from the
Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy)