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J Vet Intern Med. 2011 Jul-Aug;25(4):805-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-1676.2011.0736.x. Epub 2011 May 25.

Molecular and serological diagnosis of Bartonella infection in 61 dogs from the United States.

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Intracellular Pathogens Research Laboratory, Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27606, USA.



Molecular diagnosis of canine bartonellosis can be extremely challenging and often requires the use of an enrichment culture approach followed by PCR amplification of bacterial DNA.


(1) The use of enrichment culture with PCR will increase molecular detection of bacteremia and will expand the diversity of Bartonella species detected. (2) Serological testing for Bartonella henselae and Bartonella vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii does not correlate with documentation of bacteremia.


Between 2003 and 2009, 924 samples from 663 dogs were submitted to the North Carolina State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, Vector Borne Diseases Diagnostic Laboratory for diagnostic testing with the Bartonella α-Proteobacteria growth medium (BAPGM) platform. Test results and medical records of those dogs were retrospectively reviewed.


PCR amplification of Bartonella sp. DNA after extraction from patient samples was compared with PCR after BAPGM enrichment culture. Indirect immunofluorescent antibody assays, used to detect B. henselae and B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii antibodies, were compared with PCR.


Sixty-one of 663 dogs were culture positive or had Bartonella DNA detected by PCR, including B. henselae (30/61), B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii (17/61), Bartonella koehlerae (7/61), Bartonella volans-like (2/61), and Bartonella bovis (2/61). Coinfection with more than 1 Bartonella sp. was documented in 9/61 dogs. BAPGM culture was required for PCR detection in 32/61 cases. Only 7/19 and 4/10 infected dogs tested by IFA were B. henselae and B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii seroreactive, respectively.


Dogs were most often infected with B. henselae or B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii based on PCR and enrichment culture, coinfection was documented, and various Bartonella species were identified. Most infected dogs did not have detectable Bartonella antibodies.

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