Causes of Bartonellosis
Bartonellosis is caused by bacteria of the genus Bartonella. Domestic dogs reportedly can become infected by up to 5 currently recognized Bartonella species: B. vinsonii subspecies berkhoffi, B. henselae, B. clarridgeiae, B. elizabethae and B. washoensis. The primary vectors of the bacteria that infect dogs are fleas and several species of ticks, including Rhipicephalus sanguineus, Dermacentor species and Ixodes species. “Vectors” are carriers that transfer infectious agents from one host to another. In the United States, coyotes are thought to be one of the main reservoir hosts for several of the tick vectors. The infectious microorganisms invade and multiply within a dog’s red blood cells (RBCs), causing damage to and eventual destruction of those cells and release of their contents into the dog’s blood stream.
Prevention of Bartonellosis
The most widely recognized way to prevent bartonellosis is to practice routine and consistent use of topical anti-parasitic preparations – particularly those that target fleas and ticks.
Ultimately, the nature and extent of clinical disease due to bartonellosis depends largely upon the health of the affected dog’s immune system and the strength of its response to the infection. Bartonella organisms are responsible for a wide variety of clinical diseases in people, the most common of which is called “Cat Scratch Fever.”