Definition of Bartonellosis
Bartonellosis is an emerging infectious disease of domestic and wild mammals, including people. It is caused by subspecies of Bartonella bacteria, each of which are adapted to different reservoir hosts. In the United States, coyotes are one of the primary host reservoirs. Fleas, ticks, lice and flies are common transferors, called vectors, of Bartonella between animals. When a vector feeds on an infected host’s blood, it also becomes infected. When it then bites a dog, the bacteria enter the dog’s blood through the vector’s saliva. Bartonella invade, reproduce inside and eventually destroy the dog’s red blood cells (RBCs). This causes their contents to spill into circulation and decreases the critical delivery of oxygen. Dogs with bartonellosis become weak, depressed and lethargic, lose their appetite and drop weight. More serious symptoms can develop, up to collapse and sudden death. Some infected dogs never show clinical signs.