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Bartonella infection everywhere, but we don’t know about it
Bacteria spread by fleas, ticks, animals, spiders
Published Saturday, February 1, 2020 10:31 pm
by Stephanie Soucheray | North Carolina Health News

Bartonella bacteria, which is found in animals, ticks, mosquitoes and humans, is mostly unknown as a cause of neurological, inflammatory and chronic diseases in people. 

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A North Carolina State University professor says Bartonella infection is one of the most important untold medical stories.

Ed Breitschwerdt, a professor of veterinary sciences at North Carolina State University, keeps waiting for the tipping point. For the last 30 years, Breitschwerdt has been studying Bartonella, a genus of bacteria found in animals, ticks and humans.

“It’s frustrating,” said Breitschwerdt. “I believed we would hit a tipping point two years ago with this.”

Laura Hopper’s tipping point came in 2006, when she was 15 years old. The Raleigh teen lost her peripheral vision. She next began to suffer bouts of joint and muscle pain and numbness in her hands. Then came the headaches, memory loss and hallucinations.

“As a mother, it’s so hard to watch your child have all these symptoms,” said Maria Hopper. “It was a couple years of going to all kinds of doctors.”

But no neurologist, rheumatologist or psychiatrist could explain all of Laura’s symptoms. And it wasn’t until 2008, when the Hoppers read a news article about Bartonella and Breitschwerdt’s work, that a lightbulb went off in their heads.

Though people have known of cat scratch disease – the most public of the human diseases caused by Bartonella infection – for more than 100 years, Breitschwerdt said he’s convinced that Bartonella is the stealth cause of many neurological, inflammatory and chronic diseases in humans.

And, unlike Lyme disease, another tick-borne illness that can cause an array of distressing symptoms, Bartonella is right in the backyard of most North Carolinians.

“It’s a medically important bacteria in animals and humans in the state. If you took every stray cat along the coast of North Carolina, three quarters of them would have Bartonella,” said Breitschwerdt. “That’s because the bacteria is commonly transmitted to animals by fleas.”

He said that, historically, vets have considered common cat flea a nuisance but have under-appreciated it as a disease vector. For several years, Breitschwerdt has seen all sorts of animals and mites, ticks, fleas and even spiders test positive for Bartonella.

“Animals are the primary reservoir for the Bartonella species,” he said.

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Breitschwerdt has worked with the One Health Commission, a collective that looks at the links between environmental, human and animal health. Though his professional and personal life has been guided by his care for animals, his most recent work is geared towards detecting and treating Bartonella infection in humans.

The recovery process
The Hoppers contacted Breitschwerdt at a fortunate time: He was developing new human diagnostic method for Bartonella. Laura tested positive, and after three courses of months-long antibiotic treatments, her symptoms have all but disappeared.

“By the end of the first cycle [of antibiotics], the feeling in her hands came back,” said Maria. “By the end of the second cycle, hallucinations stopped.” Though Laura still suffers some muscle pain, she considers herself 80 to 90 percent healed.

If the bacteria is positively detected, treating Bartonella infection is a daunting task for even otherwise healthy patients

“You cannot float humans or horses in enough Doxycycline to kill this bacteria,” said Breitschwerdt. Treatment, such as Laura’s, requires weeks of multi-antibiotic therapies.

Laura was also lucky in that she tested positive for Bartonella immediately.

A patient infected can have a negative test on a Monday and positive test by Wednesday.

“People are tested several times, but Bartonella can hide in the body,” Breitschwerdt said.

That’s because an animal scratch or bug bite (or a vet’s needle stick) results in Bartonella infection in red blood cells and endothelial cells, which line blood vessels. The bacteria can “hide out” for many infectious cycles, causing symptoms and eventually affecting every organ system in the body.

Most people can clear Bartonella from their bloodstreams effectively. But among the subset of people who can’t eliminate the bacteria, help in mainstream medicine will be difficult to come by.

“I often talk with veterinarians who have these vague complaints – who say they’ve been sick for weeks or months,” said Breitschwerdt.

Many of the vets receive diagnoses of Lyme disease, chronic fatigue, rheumatoid arthritis, or are sent to a psychiatrist and told their symptoms are untreated depression. But Breitschwerdt cautions them to get tested for Bartonella.

Breitschwerdt has ventured into industry with Galaxy Diagnostics, a company he founded to offer Bartonella testing kits to doctors. The company launched into human testing two years ago, and has received orders from 300 doctors across the country.

At this stage, said Amanda Elam, Galaxy’s president, the company’s goal is to educate people about Bartonella.

“We’re dong continuing medical education courses, working with people in public health and doing education with veterinarians,” she said. “I’d really like the medical community to keep an open mind about this.”

While Breitschwerdt waits for the public tipping point for Bartonella, he said he too is focused on disease education.

“It takes 10 years before something added to the medical textbooks gets widely spread in practice,” he said. “We’re working on changing those textbooks.”


This article first appeared on North Carolina Health News and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.


Ive had CSF since 2014 (cat scratch). Now with the henselae I have Quintana. Ive been on doxycycline and rifampin for over a year now. Mine hit my axilla. Coral reefed 3 lymphnodes. (Microrganisms biofimed and cemented onto them) the antibiotics have broken up the biofim but now its sprinkled thru out my blood...now experiencing a "frozen shoulder" the beginning of my dehabilitation. Can no longer use my arm. :( I havent had my mri yet but thinking this is part of having the diseases...also having psoriasis was my immunity issue to where I cant rid this disease. Its chronic CSF
Posted on April 7, 2021
Call Robinhood Integrative Winston-Salem NC. They do take health insurance. They treat Bartonella and will test u for it. Test cost is out of pocket. Will treat with herbs or antibiotics. I was diagnosed with it through them.
Posted on March 2, 2021
2003 myself finding out about Bartonella ... Dr. looked at the Medical book and prescribed Antibiotica ...2020 last test posetive again ... Although now old age...I have been suffering since childhood... strange has been the monthly cicle ... very ill and distented abdomenenlarging tissue...became my own Dr.(reallized the varnishing of the cycle after operations) and taking since 13 years Augumentin... helps to supress the monthly cycle for about 4 to 5 month... with next dosis same happens again... Hystorectomy 30 years ago... why this cycle???
Posted on January 11, 2021
My husband hepatitis B positive result turned negative after using Kabuma Herbal Center HBV herbal remedy for SIX WEEKS. he last tested 2019 and was still negative. All thanks to DR Dube. You can contact them through Their website: www.kabumaherbalcenter.com for any chronic illness cure
Posted on April 11, 2020
It's funny how great I felt on a 3 week of Doxy, but the rheumatologist said that's all they could do for treatment. I actually started feeling like a human but no doctor wanted to learn more........

Sadly, sick and lonely
Posted on February 23, 2020
The most frustrating thing, is not being able to afford treatment and most doctors have no clue and don't want to. The only doctor's that can help are lyme literate doctors who no insurance will cover your treatment and so I and many others just have to suffer. I could really use the help and disability doesnt even cover rent.

Sadly sick and lonely
Posted on February 23, 2020
Bitten by tick 2016
Tested positive Galaxy Diagnostic
Now have skin issues,redness,itch,dry and always same arm, elbow to wrist.seeing ID at Duke..
No answers
Posted on February 23, 2020
Excellent Article
Posted on February 22, 2020
Is there any way to know what kinds of effects Bart has on cats and how to treat? I suspect my rescued feral cat is a carrier.
Posted on February 22, 2020
I've had a diagnosis or Bartenella and took 2 years of doxy. I was diagnosed with mylodysplastic syndrome ( a bone marrow disorder and quite rarel) Praise God it is the low risk kind, but Im trying to find literature on Bart living in the bone marrow. I have to have a bone marrow biopsy every 6 months so It would be a good time to look. My dr isnt familiar with it * just like most( so I need to tell him how to do the staining for it. Can you help. Also, anyone else develop MDS after infection. I had Babesia, Bartenellan and Ehrlicia. Thanks for any help you can give!
Posted on February 21, 2020
Does it cause lymphedema?
Posted on February 18, 2020
For the person that posted this comment, "Where does one get this test. Work as equine vet tech for years and have those symptoms."
Antibiotics saved my son's life.

Posted on February 16, 2020
Horowitz once said he considers Bart the big baddie and Lyme a coinfection of it!

I got it from feral cats. literally is "cat scratch fever". Even though it was 93 and computers were not really around yet I diagnosed myself.
However by then it could have been a Lyme flare anyway.
Posted on February 16, 2020
My worry is how many cats get diagnosed with stomatitis and have all of their teeth extracted when bartonella may be what causes their gum issues. Azythromicin can be a cure. I know from experience.
Posted on February 15, 2020
Bartonella shuts off the immune system to survive and the other infections like that. In order to cure it you have to turn the immune system back on, When you do that your immune system will clear all of the infections.

Posted on February 14, 2020
Where does one get this test. Work as equine vet tech for years and have those simytoms .
Posted on February 8, 2020
I have severe headaches daily, for 20+ yrs. Is there any help for me ?
Posted on February 3, 2020
Garlic Essential Oil, teasel root, Houttuynia Cordata , allspice essential oil , Coffee Enemas
Posted on February 3, 2020
Antibiotics DO NOT WORK. It will come back with a vengeance..
Posted on February 3, 2020
Where can one obtain the essential oils listed in first comment?
Posted on February 3, 2020
Bartonella is suspect in a headache disease we research called New Daily Persistent Headache. https://www.mdpi.com/2079-6382/8/4/246 Johns Hopkins University just published a research article of essential oils that kill Bartonella better than antibiotics.
Posted on February 3, 2020
My dgt has been diagnosed with bartonella based on symptoms. She has been on antibiotics for 2 years. She also has Morgellins which they say is result of the bart infection. Is there any new treatment? How does one obtain the test you have developed!
Posted on February 2, 2020

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