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J Clin Microbiol. 2001 Mar;39(3):879-82.

Infection with Bartonella weissii and detection of Nanobacterium antigens in a North Carolina beef herd.

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Departments of Clinical Sciences and Farm Animal Health and Resource Management, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27606, USA.


Very recently, Bartonella organisms have been isolated from large ruminants (deer, elk, and dairy and beef cattle) located in the United States and in France. In this study, we report the serologic, microbiologic, and molecular findings related to the isolation of a Bartonella species in North Carolina beef cattle and the detection of nanobacterial antigen using a commercially available enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Between August 1998 and September 1999, blood was collected from 38 cattle ranging in age from 1 month to 6.5 years. After a 1-month incubation period, a Bartonella sp. was isolated on a 5% rabbit blood agar plate from three of six EDTA blood samples. PCR amplification of the 16S rRNA gene from all three isolates resulted in a DNA sequence that was 100% identical to that of B. weissii 16S rRNA (GenBank no. AF199502). By IFA testing, 36 of 38 cattle had antibodies (> or =1:64) to Bartonella weissii (bovine origin) antigens. Nanobacterial antigen was detected in 22 of 22 serum samples. We conclude that infection with an organism similar or closely related to B. weissii can occur in North Carolina cattle and that although their actual existence is still controversial Nanobacterium antigens were detected with a commercially available test kit. The epidemiology, vector biology, and potential pathogenicity of these organisms in cattle deserve future consideration.

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