Infection and re-infection of domestic cats with various Bartonella species or types: B. henselae type I is protective against heterologous challenge with B. henselae type II.
OBJECTIVE To evaluate disease in kittens inoculated with Bartonella henselae strain LSU16. ANIMALS Eighteen 12-week-old specific-pathogen-free kittens. PROCEDURE Kittens were inoculated with B henselae strain LSU16 or saline (0.9% NaCl) solution. Blood samples were collected from kittens on alternate weeks, and bacteremia, clinical signs, and antibody concentrations were monitored for 6 months after inoculation. RESULTS Kittens developed raised, erythematous areas at the site of inoculation within 72 hours. Swelling peaked at 14 days and resolved by 28 days after inoculation. Fever had a biphasic pattern, with an episode of 1- to 3-days' duration beginning 6 to 7 days after inoculation followed by an episode of 3- to 8-days' duration beginning 11 to 13 days after inoculation. Kittens were bacteremic by day 14 with peak bacteremia at days 14 to 28. Strong antibody responses to B henselae were detected. Clinical disease resolved before bacteremia became undetectable, but signs of disease correlated with the highest degree of bacteremia. Regional lymphadenopathy also was evident. CONCLUSION AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Clinical disease in kittens was similar to that in adult cats infected with B henselae strain LSU16, except that lethargy and anorexia were less severe in kittens, and a biphasic pattern of fever was detected in kittens. Clinical disease after inoculation with B henselae may be strain-dependent. To limit transmission of Bartonella organisms, appropriate flea prevention should be instituted. IMPACT FOR HUMAN MEDICINE Kittens that are febrile, anorectic, lethargic, and that have lymphadenopathy should be tested for Bartonella organisms, and contact with immunocompromised owners should be discouraged.