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Arch Intern Med. 1995 Aug 7-21;155(15):1670-6.

Use of Bartonella antigens for serologic diagnosis of cat-scratch disease at a national referral center.

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  • 1Viral and Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga., USA.



Bartonella henselae (formerly the genus Rochalimaea) has recently been isolated from patients with cat-scratch disease and their cats, and since September 1992 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has offered an indirect fluorescent antibody assay for Bartonella-specific antibody.


Physicians submitted serum samples from patients suspected of having cat-scratch disease or other Bartonella-associated illness and completed a questionnaire that recorded clinical information. Indirect fluorescent antibody assay was performed with the use of antigen derived from three Bartonella species: B henselae, Bartonella quintana, and Bartonella elizabethae.


During 16 months, 3088 serum samples were received. The largest numbers of specimens and the highest percentages positive (titer, > or = 64) were observed in the fall and winter. Clinical histories of the first 600 patients for whom serum samples and completed information forms were received were examined in detail; seropositivity was significantly associated with cat contact, cat age of less than 1 year, cat scratch, presence of an inoculation papule, and regional adenopathy. Of 91 patients whose illness met a strict clinical definition of cat-scratch disease, 86 (95%) had titers of 64 or greater to either B henselae or B quintana. A fourfold rise or fall in titer was observed in 87 of 132 patients with paired serum samples.


The indirect fluorescent antibody assay for Bartonella-specific antibody is sensitive for the diagnosis of cat-scratch disease. Redefinition of cat-scratch disease on the basis of cause and use of this assay as a diagnostic criterion is recommended.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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