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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 May;1166:127-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04531.x.

Insights in Bartonella host specificity.

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UMR Bipar, Afssa 23 rue du Général de Gaulle, 94 700 Maisons-Alfort, France.


The genus Bartonella comprises a unique group of emerging gram-negative, intracellular bacteria that can cause a long-lasting intraerythrocytic bacteremia in their reservoir hosts. In recent years, the widespread occurrence and diversity of these bacteria has been increasingly recognized. This has resulted in a dramatic expansion of the genus Bartonella to 24 currently described species or subspecies, among which at least half have been associated with human disease. Bartonella infections have been observed in virtually all species examined, extending from humans to carnivores, ungulates, rodents, lagomorphs, insectivores, and bats. Adaptation by Bartonellae to such a diverse range of mammals has resulted in host specificity, and all validated Bartonella species described to date are capable of parasitizing only a limited number of animal species. In this review, the possible mechanisms explaining the specificity of each Bartonella species for its reservoir host are discussed.

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