Bartonellosis in Cats – Definition
Bartonellosis, also referred to as feline bartonellosis or cat scratch disease in people, is an emerging world-wide disease caused by rod-shaped bacteria in the genus Bartonella. Bartonella henselae is the most common cause of feline bartonellosis and cat scratch fever. The infective bacteria are carried in the saliva and feces of infected fleas and possibly other external parasites, which are called “vectors”. The vectors transfer the bacteria to cats in their feces and to dogs in their saliva while they feed. Most cats with bartonellosis don’t actually get sick, or at least don’t show outward signs of illness; this makes them asymptomatic carriers of the infection. They do, however, frequently transmit Bartonella bacteria to humans through scratches (from infected flea or other parasite feces under the cat’s nails) and bites (through infected parasite feces in the cat’s mouth from licking and grooming).