Send to

Choose Destination
Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 1998 Jul;5(4):486-90.

Seroprevalence of antibodies to Bartonella henselae in patients with cat scratch disease and in healthy controls: evaluation and comparison of two commercial serological tests.

Author information

Abteilung Mikrobiologie und Hygiene, Institut für Medizinische Mikrobiologie und Hygiene, Klinikum der Universität Freiburg, Germany.


Serologic testing for the presence of antibodies to Bartonella henselae is a widely accepted diagnostic procedure for laboratory confirmation of the diagnosis of cat scratch disease (CSD). In this study a commercially available indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) based on B. henselae-infected human larynx carcinoma cells (test A) was evaluated. Sera from 42 patients with CSD (20 confirmed by PCR) and 270 sera from healthy controls (consisting of 63 cat owners, 65 individuals whose last close contact with cats was >6 months previously, and 142 persons who had never been exposed to cats) were investigated for antibodies to B. henselae. All patients with CSD had titers of immunoglobulin G (IgG) to B. henselae of 128 or higher (test A; sensitivity, 100%). Of the 270 controls 189 (70%) were seronegative (titer, <64), 38 (14.1%) had titers of 64, 30 (11.1%) had titers of 128, 9 (3.3%) had titers of 256, and 4 (1.5%) had high titers, 512 (test A; specificity, 70%). Of the cat owners and individuals who had never had close contact with cats, 71.4 and 71.12%, respectively, were seronegative, and titers of 64, 128, 256, and 512 were found in 14.3 and 16.2%, 1.6 and 10.5%, 9.5 and 0.7%, and 3.2 and 1.4%, respectively. The sera from the patients and from the first 100 healthy adults without a history of close contact with cats were additionally tested with a second commercially available IFA, based on Vero cells infected with B. henselae and Bartonella quintana (test B). The sensitivity and specificity of test B were 93 and 73%, respectively. For patients with CSD the cross-reactivity between B. henselae and B. quintana in this test was 95%. Both systems are highly sensitive but less specific for detection of IgG antibodies to B. henselae in samples from patients with clinically apparent CSD. For detection of IgM antibodies, test A seems to be more sensitive (88%) and more specific (95%) than test B (sensitivity and specificity of 64 and 86%, respectively). The data show that the seroprevalence of antibodies to B. henselae in German individuals is high (30%). Low antibody levels are not sufficient evidence of active or prior infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center