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J Cent Nerv Syst Dis. 2019 Mar 18;11:1179573519832014. doi: 10.1177/1179573519832014. eCollection 2019.

Bartonella henselae Bloodstream Infection in a Boy With Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome.

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Intracellular Pathogens Research Laboratory, Comparative Medicine Institute, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA.
Medical Arts Psychotherapy Associates P.A., Summit, NJ, USA.
Translational Medicine Group PC, North Bethesda, MD, USA.
Sancta Familia Center for Integrative Medicine, Columbus, OH, USA.



With the advent of more sensitive culture and molecular diagnostic testing modalities, Bartonella spp. infections have been documented in blood and/or cerebrospinal fluid specimens from patients with diverse neurological symptoms. Pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS) is characterized by an unusually abrupt onset of cognitive, behavioral, or neurological symptoms. Between October 2015 and January 2017, a 14-year-old boy underwent evaluation by multiple specialists for sudden-onset psychotic behavior (hallucinations, delusions, suicidal and homicidal ideation).


In March 2017, Bartonella spp. serology (indirect fluorescent antibody assays) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification, DNA sequencing, and Bartonella enrichment blood culture were used on a research basis to assess Bartonella spp. exposure and bloodstream infection, respectively. PCR assays targeting other vector-borne infections were performed to assess potential co-infections.


For 18 months, the boy remained psychotic despite 4 hospitalizations, therapeutic trials involving multiple psychiatric medication combinations, and immunosuppressive treatment for autoimmune encephalitis. Neurobartonellosis was diagnosed after cutaneous lesions developed. Subsequently, despite nearly 2 consecutive months of doxycycline administration, Bartonella henselae DNA was PCR amplified and sequenced from the patient's blood, and from Bartonella alphaproteobacteria growth medium enrichment blood cultures. B henselae serology was negative. During treatment with combination antimicrobial chemotherapy, he experienced a gradual progressive decrease in neuropsychiatric symptoms, cessation of psychiatric drugs, resolution of Bartonella-associated cutaneous lesions, and a return to all pre-illness activities.


This case report suggests that B henselae bloodstream infection may contribute to progressive, recalcitrant neuropsychiatric symptoms consistent with PANS in a subset of patients.


Bacteria; Bartonella; psychosis; schizophrenia; stretch marks; transmission

Conflict of interest statement

Declaration of Conflicting Interests:The author(s) declared the following potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: In conjunction with Dr Sushama Sontakke and North Carolina State University, EBB, DVM holds US Patent No. 7115385; Media and Methods for cultivation of microorganisms, which was issued on October 3, 2006. He is a co-founder, shareholder, and chief scientific officer for Galaxy Diagnostics, a company that provides advanced diagnostic testing for the detection of Bartonella species infections. Dr RGM is the chief technical officer for Galaxy Diagnostics and Dr BRM is the chief medical officer. All the other authors have no potential conflicts of interest to report.

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