• Bartonella henselae;
  • Bartonella infection;
  • erythrocyte transfusion;
  • iatrogenic disease

summaryBartonella henselae is the agent of cat scratch disease and bacillary angiomatosis. Blood donors can be asymptomatic carriers of B. henselae and the risk for transmission by transfusion should be considered. The objective of this study was to demonstrate that B. henselae remains viable in red blood cell (RBC) units at the end of the storage period. Two RBC units were split into two portions. One portion was inoculated with B. henselae and the other was used as a control. All units were stored at 4 °C for 35 days. Aliquots were collected on a weekly basis for culture in a dish with chocolate agar, ideal for the cultivation of this agent. Samples were collected on days 1 and 35 and taken for culture in Bact/AlertR blood culture bottles. Aliquots taken simultaneously were fixed in Karnovsky’s medium for subsequent electron microscopy evaluation. Samples from infected bags successfully isolated B. henselae by chocolate agar culture, although Bact/AlertR blood culture bottles remained negative. Bartonella spp. structures within erythrocytes were confirmed by electron microscopy. The viability of B. henselae was demonstrated after a storage period of RBC units. These data reinforce the possibility of infection by transfusion of blood units collected from asymptomatic blood donors.