Another Epidemic: Bartonella and the Hideous Complications With Chronic Lyme Disease.

If you are not responding to Lyme treatment, chances are, you are infected with another tick-borne disease.  The more research that is applied to this aspect of Lyme treatment, the more types of Bartonella that are being discovered, and the amazing symbiotic nature these diseases share.

If you are not responding to Lyme treatment, chances are, you are infected with another tick-borne disease.  The more research that is applied to this aspect of Lyme treatment, the more types of Bartonella that are being discovered, and the amazing symbiotic nature these diseases share.

As Dr. James Schaller recently wrote to me (visit his website for many articles and peer-reviewed studies at

personalconsult.com) that the top Bartonella veterinary researcher (among about the top three,)  just published things that he had posted 5 years ago, and wisely discusses the increasing need for Bartonella–literate physicians to talk with veterinary thinkers/researchers.

FOUR QUOTES OF INTEREST:

…antibody testing for Bartonella species is proving to be very insensitive.

The genus Bartonella is also unusual because it appears that no

other infectious agent is transmitted by more vectors.

…patient response to treatment is frequently incomplete.

…clearly some of us now are much more concerned about the genus Bartonella than anyone is at the National Institutues of Health (NIH) or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The veterinarian’s article follows:

“Bartonellosis: An emerging and potentially hidden epidemic?”

By Edward B. Breitschwerdt, DVM, DACVIM

Bartonella species, their animal hosts, potential vectors, and sequelae of infection are being identified at a snowballing rate. A new diagnostic test may help DVMs and MDs come together to better understand these infections in their patients.

Veterinarians and physicians should talk to each other more frequently than we have in the past. Of all known organisms, 61% are zoonotic,1,2 and of the emerging pathogens,

the vast majority are zoonotic organisms… In recent years, the genus Bartonella has been the major focus of our vector-borne research efforts.

BARTONELLA SPECIES COMPLEXITIES

The organism that causes cat scratch disease in people was identified as a Bartonella species in 1992. As researchers have continued to study these bacteria, we’ve learned that the intraerythrocytic component of the infection with a Bartonella species has been somewhat

overemphasized… Bartonella species are endotheliotropic bacteria that use a specialized invasion process to enter endothelial cells and can move about the body by infecting macrophages, with localization in a variety of tissues…3

Researchers have learned that Bartonella species are the first bacteria identified to have an ability to invade CD34+ progenitor cells in bone marrow.5 This may be why we find Bartonella organisms in cats in only a low percentage (3%) of their erythrocytes.

The genus Bartonella is also unusual because it appears that no other infectious agent is transmitted by more vectors. We now know that sand flies, human body lice, cat fleas, rodent fleas, and probably many other flea species are capable of transmitting certain Bartonella species. And cattle, deer, elk, and sheep all have their own Bartonella species that appear to be transmitted by biting flies or keds (wingless flies)…6

AN UNDER-RECOGNIZED ZOONOSIS

In my

opinion, physicians and veterinarians need to come together regarding bartonellosis, because it appears to be an important and under-recognized zoonosis… diagnostic test sensitivity for documenting infection with this genus of bacteria is extremely poor, and based upon recent experience in our laboratory, patient response to treatment is frequently incomplete.

…what’s important for physicians and veterinarians to recognize is that some of these Bartonella species are found in cats,

dogs, rats, ground squirrels, and rabbits. In 1992, two Bartonella species were known to exist, and in 2009, over 26 named or candidatus species exist.

ANIMAL RESERVOIR HOSTS

Bartonella species are present in a multitude of animal species. One of the most recently identified Bartonella species, Bartonella australis, was found in kangaroos.13 Unexpectedly, 82% of beef cattle in North Carolina have Bartonella bovis in their blood.14 My laboratory can isolate a

Bartonella species from one or two out of three feral cats in North Carolina,15 and other laboratories around the world have documented similar levels of bacteremia in flea-infested cats.

Another important point for physicians and veterinarians to consider is that many of their patients and clients have pocket pets, some of which tend to scratch and bite. Unfortunately, numerous Bartonella species have been identified in the blood of various rodent species. For example, the overall prevalence

was 26% in the population of wild and captive animals brought to Japan to be sold as pocket pets.16 The human medical literature in the United States reveals case reports of previously healthy people with no evidence of louse exposure and a history of cat exposure who presented to their physicians for evaluation of lymphadenopathy or seizures and were found to be infected with Bartonella quintana.17 More recently, our laboratory isolated B. quintana from cats and from a woman who was bitten by one of those

cats.17

…In reviewing the human literature, as it relates to B. quintana, it told me, as a veterinary internist, what I should be looking for in my canine patients if I suspect that this organism is causing disease. And vice versa: I would suggest that physicians review data and observations that veterinarians are generating in regard to this genus of bacteria, because clearly some of us now are much more concerned about the genus Bartonella than anyone is at the National Institutues of

Health (NIH) or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

SIMILARITIES OF DISEASE EXPRESSION IN PEOPLE AND ANIMALS

Bartonella species can induce a number of what I think are fairly well established pathologies in either dogs or people.18

…So we’re seeing that what’s occurring in people is also occurring in dogs—for example, about 80% of people and about 80% of dogs have endocarditis selectively involving the aortic valve. And

based on the veterinary literature, physicians may want to put bartonellosis on their differential lists for children with unexplained epistaxis.19,22,23

BETTER DETECTION OF BARTONELLA SPECIES INFECTIONS

After the first isolation of B. vinsonii ssp. berkhoffii, we had difficulty isolating Bartonella species in other dogs by using culture or by detecting Bartonella DNA in patient samples by PCR testing, even though we could detect antibodies by using an

immunofluorescent antibody assay. In our laboratory, we had discussed that these bacteria seem to be happier in insects than they do in dogs, so we decided to develop an optimized insect cell culture media to enhance the growth of Bartonella species.24,25 The insect cell culture media—Bartonella alpha Proteobacteria Growth Medium, or BAPGM (Galaxy Diagnostics, www.galaxydx.com)—combined with PCR testing now allows us to grow and detect these bacteria in animals and immunocompetent people better than any other

diagnostic test currently available.26-28

My laboratory has found that 50% of dogs and people infected with B. henselae or B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii do not have detectable antibodies to any of the six different Bartonella species antigens used in our testing.18,26,27 So antibody testing for Bartonella species is proving to be very insensitive.

INITIAL BAPGM RESULTS AND POTENTIAL SEQUELAE OF BARTONELLA SPECIES INFECTION

Using BAPGM, our

laboratory has recently started testing people ….[ with Duke] 14 of 42 people had positive Bartonella species cultures and several had Bartonella species coinfections.26 Using a survey instrument that we developed, this group of people with occupational animal contact and vector exposure described having headaches, insomnia, memory loss, muscle pain, and joint pain.26 Similar to our findings, physicians in Israel have generated a nice body of evidence regarding the long-term follow up of patients with cat

scratch disease 29-31 and have shown that a subset of those patients later develop chronic arthritis, chronic myalgia, and chronic musculoskeletal pain as components of their illness.

We now know that some people and some dogs can be coinfected with more than one Bartonella species, as is the case in cats that may be simultaneously infected with three hemotropic Mycoplasma species.32 It was the use of BAPGM that allowed us to culture B. quintana from a woman who had been bitten by a feral cat

(although we had expected to culture B. henselae or Bartonella clarridgeiae instead). Months later, we used the BAPGM enrichment approach to culture B. quintana from the feral cat that had bitten her and another feral cat that lived on her property.17 We have also used the BAPGM platform to obtain the first DNA evidence of human infection with candidatus Bartonella melophagi,28 and CDC investigators used this approach to make the first isolates of Bartonella tamiae from febrile human patients.33

MY FATHER’S ILLNESS AND BARTONELLA SPECIES

About two years ago, my 86-year-old father, who lived in a rural farm community and had developed gradual, progressive joint pain… He subsequently developed memory loss that was thought to be possible Alzheimer’s disease. He then fell twice a few weeks apart, and a third time he fell, his hip fractured. He had many postoperative complications, and during his stay in a rehabilitation hospital he developed seizures.

At this point I became intimately involved… We ultimately identified what appears to be a new Bartonella species, most closely related to “Candidatus Bartonella volans,” in his blood, as well as B. henselae and B. vinsonii ssp. berkhoffii.40

BARTONELLA SPECIES INFECTION AND ONE MEDICINE

There are several more examples in the literature that describe people with unexplained and chronic illnesses, who are identified as having positive Bartonella

species test results. What I have described today doesn’t prove causation of illness, but I think we have justification to worry about disease causation. Bartonella species infection is truly a problem in comparative medicine and a place where One Medicine applies. Veterinarians and physicians need to work closely to find solutions for the benefit of our respective patients. Although we still have much to learn about these bacteria, we now have a better way of detecting them in patient samples; therefore, we

need to find out what they’re doing in our patients and how often they’re doing it.

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2 Responses to Another Epidemic: Bartonella and the Hideous Complications With Chronic Lyme Disease.

  1. JANE BROADHEAD says:

    As I understand it the only medicine that kills Bartonella is Dr. Zhang’s HH 1 or 2(ll) capsules. Nothing else will do it, there is NO drug for it, that is the problem with Bartonella.
    The whole approach to Lyme has to be used and all the infections addressed at one time. The gut has to be constantly cleansed and certain factors mentioned by Dr. Klinghardt must be in place and taken in a certain order and way to work properly and effectlively. Look for Peptide treatment. Please look on his web-site for information. The only trouble with the treatment is that there are very few Doctors who treat and have been trained by him. The waiting list to see Dr. Klinghardt personally is ‘years’ long so either get put on the list and or try to see a trained Doctor by him as it would be quicker; and try to take his cocktail after researching your best strategy in how to use it.(circulation -P by Dr. Zhang is effective for the circulation as it is hampered.) Biofilms in the gut can be broken down with Chlorella by C.P. Protect taken with fish oil; but you have to have a Borrellia killer in place whilst doing this otherwise you will get worse as the Lyme is released.
    Dr. Jernigan is also very useful and his medication is accessible over the internet from Jernigan Nutraceuticals I have taken it for years with success it really does help, and you can talk to him over the phone/e-mail.
    Also ‘Better Health Guy’ is very helpful too and has his own web-site.
    Hope this all helps, it takes years to treat Lyme for most people.

    • Jenna Smith says:

      Hi Jane –

      Thank you so much for your informative comment!

      According to my research there are other methods to getting rid of Bartonella. In fact, I have had many people email me regarding their success and failures of treatment with Dr. Zhang which I believe proves my theory that we are all unique with our health problems – Lyme species, co-infections, age, length of undiagnosed disease, symptoms… there isn’t any one solution as Scott will agree (Better Health Guy). The work Dr. Eva Sapi has been doing on biofilms is the most pertinent for both treatment and understanding how the biofilm works. According to her, the number of destructive microbes within the biofilm communicate and for a separate entity that is impervious to antibiotics and many other Lyme protocols. However, Banderol and Samento work together to destroy the biofilm and all of the infections within that community including Bartonella. She says that once one of the members of the community is destroyed that the interruption of the synergistic community along with the destruction of the protective biofilm allows the immune system and any killing protocol to mop up the remaining microbes (see my blog posts on Dr. Sapi’s research including the Townsend Letter from 2010).

      I agree that effective treatment takes much longer than most of us can imagine or want to admit – especially the longer one is sick AND the worse the symptoms one has. I am glad you recommend Dr. Zhang, Dr. Klinghardt and Dr. Jernigan (as I do on my website) and I wish you speedy healing and every blessing.

      Jenna

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