Posted on May 24, 2017 in Blog |

The following is an excerpt written by Dr. B. Robert Mozayeni in our book Lyme Savvy: Treatment Insights for Lyme Patients and Practitioners.

There are greater risks for Bartonella as a co-infection of Borrelia because you can contract Bartonella also from flea-bites and cats. Fleas and several other vectors are the risk factors for Bartonella transmission

Bartonella has been shown to be present in:
dust mites,
allergen extracts that are used to treat dust allergies by injection,
bed bugs, and most importantly,
the common house cat.

Especially if the cat is an indoor/outdoor house cat, it is very likely to be carrying Bartonella.

The microbe gets into its saliva, the saliva gets onto its fur, its dander and the dander gets into the air. However, currently, there is no evidence to support Bartonella transmission by cats unless the cats are concurrently infested with fleas.

When Bartonella bacteremic cats are co-housed with non-bacteremic cats transmission cat to cat does not occur in the absence of fleas. This may or may not be true for dogs – we have no data speaking to this.

Current evidence from cats is that the saliva and nails become contaminated with infectious flea feces when the cat has fleas.

While no studies have been done that measure the risks, basic facts suggest a cat owner should be very careful to limit how much time the cat is allowed outdoors in order to reduce its risk for flea and tick exposure. Further, a cat or dog owner should be vigilant about controlling fleas.

Fleas, including sand fleas, present a high risk for Bartonella infection.

We try to blame the flea and the bug rather than the pet.

Veterinary medicine has worked to develop some excellent products to prevent flea and tick infestations in cats and dogs, which should prevent bartonellosis in family members. The products should be used year round for the life of the pet.

Up to 80% of feral cats may have Bartonella. It may be higher. I have found in patients with Lyme Disease a far greater exposure to cats than to deer ticks. Most cats are completely asymptomatic even when infected but keep in mind it is when the cat has fleas, that its fleas, scratch or bite is likely to Cat-scratch disease and that the cause of Cat-scratch disease, Bartonella, is very likely to go systemic after the rash has resolved. This has caused the medical profession to assume that Cat-scratch disease is benign and self-limiting – just because the rash resolves on its own.

No one realizes the rash is only the first phase of Bartonella infection and that the commonly involved lymph node swelling is clear evidence of the systemic spread. Once in the lymph nodes, the Bartonella causes a form of immune suppression and tolerance thus allowing the disease to appear to resolve when really it is going into remission preparing to cause a chronic smoldering inflammatory process throughout the body.

I think the attention given to Borrelia and its connection to the deer tick has gotten far more attention than what is another, possibly higher risk of exposure to fleas and the risk of Bartonella infection.

In the groups of patients we have studied, exposure to a cat, or to a cat plus fleas, is a more likely scenario given the prevalence of cats in human households.

Bartonella is a very common co-infection of Lyme Disease.
Bartonella is not just a co-infection of Borrelia.
Bartonella can be a chronic infection often unrelated to Lyme Disease.
Bartonella is also a chronic infection often misdiagnosed as Lyme Disease.
Bartonella infection might be a more significant global public health problem than Lyme Disease.