• Open Access

Experimental Infection of Horses with Bartonella henselae and Bartonella bovis

Authors


  • Studies were performed at the University of California-Davis with enriched blood culture/PCR performed at North Carolina State University. Abstract presented at the 2010 ACVIM Forum, Anaheim, CA.

Corresponding author: Joanie Palmero, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616; e-mail: jpalmerovet@gmail.com.

Abstract

Background

Experimental infection of horses with Bartonella species is not documented.

Objectives

Determine clinical signs, hematologic changes, duration of bacteremia, and pattern of seroconversion in Bartonella henselae or Bartonella bovis-inoculated horses.

Animals

Twelve (2 groups of 6) randomly selected healthy adult horses seronegative and culture negative for Bartonella spp.

Methods

Experimental/observational study: Group I: B. henselae or saline control was inoculated intradermally into 4 naïve and 2 sentinel horses, respectively. Group II: same design was followed by means of B. bovis. Daily physical examinations, once weekly CBC, immunofluorescent antibody assay serology, real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and twice weekly blood cultures were performed for 6 weeks and at postinoculation day 80 and 139. Bartonella alpha-Proteobacteria growth medium (BAPGM) enrichment blood culture was performed for horses that seroconverted to B. henselae antigens.

Results

Transient clinical signs consistent with bartonellosis occurred in some Bartonella-inoculated horses, but hematological alterations did not occur. Three B. henselae-inoculated horses seroconverted, whereas 1 B. bovis-inoculated horse was weakly seropositive. In Group I, B. henselae was amplified and sequenced from BAPGM blood culture as well as a subculture isolate from 1 horse, blood from a 2nd horse, and BAPGM blood culture from a 3rd horse although a subculture isolate was not obtained. All sentinels remained PCR, culture, and serology negative.

Conclusions

Detection of Bartonella sp. in blood after experimental inoculation supports bacteremia and seroconversion. Culture with BAPGM may be required to detect Bartonella sp. Although mild clinical signs followed acute infection, no long-term effects were noted for 2 years postinoculation.

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