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Clin Infect Dis. 2000 Jul;31(1):131-5. Epub 2000 Jul 25.

Bartonella quintana and urban trench fever.

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  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.


Contemporary Bartonella quintana infections have emerged in diverse regions of the world, predominantly involving socially disadvantaged persons. Available data suggest that the human body louse Pediculus humanus is the vector for transmission of B. quintana. Descriptions of the clinical manifestations associated with contemporary B. quintana infections have varied considerably and include asymptomatic infection, a relapsing febrile illness, headache, leg pain, "culture-negative" endocarditis, and, in human immunodeficiency virus-infected persons, bacillary angiomatosis. Laboratory diagnosis is most convincing when B. quintana is isolated in blood culture, but growth often takes 20-40 days; problems exist with both sensitivity and specificity of serological assays. On the basis of available information, use of doxycycline, erythromycin, or azithromycin to treat B. quintana infections is recommended. Treatment of uncomplicated B. quintana bacteremia for 4-6 weeks and treatment of B. quintana endocarditis (in a person who does not undergo valve surgery) for 4-6 months are recommended, with the addition of a bactericidal agent (such as a third-generation cephalosporin or an aminoglycoside) during the initial 2-3 weeks of therapy for endocarditis.

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