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Lancet. 2002 Jul 20;360(9328):226-8.

Bartonella quintana in human erythrocytes.

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Unité des Rickettsies CNRS UPRES-A 6020, Faculté de Médecine, Université de la Méditerranée, 13385 Marseille Cedex 05, France.


Bartonella quintana is transmitted by body lice among homeless people. Infection with this organism leads to chronic bacteraemia with few symptoms. We looked for B quintana in erythrocytes in a population of homeless people in Marseille, France. In this report we show the intraerythrocytic presence of B quintana in people with symptomless bacteraemia, by use of a specific monoclonal antibody and laser confocal microscopy. Presence of at least 5 x 10(4) colony-forming units per mL was predictive of intracellular infection. However, such infection was not associated with evidence of haemolysis. Colonisation of erythrocytes could allow efficient transmission of B quintana by body lice.

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