Concurrent infection of the central nervous system by Borrelia burgdorferi and Bartonella henselae: evidence for a novel tick-borne disease complex

Published Date
Journal
JAMA Neurology
Citation
Arch Neurol. 2001 Sep;58(9):1357-63
DOI
10.1001/archneur.58.9.1357
Authors
Eskow E
Rao RV
Mordechai E
Abstract

OBJECTIVES: To investigate Bartonella henselae as a potential human tick-borne pathogen and to evaluate its role as a coinfecting agent of the central nervous system in the presence of neuroborreliosis.

DESIGN: Case report study.

SETTING: A primary health care center in Flemington, NJ, and the Department of Research and Development at Medical Diagnostic Laboratories LLC in Mt Laurel, NJ.

SUBJECTS: Two male patients (aged 14 and 36 years) and 2 female patients (aged 15 and 30 years, respectively) with a history of tick bites and Lyme disease.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Laboratory and diagnostic findings before and after antimicrobial therapy.

RESULTS: Patients residing in a Lyme-endemic area of New Jersey with ongoing symptoms attributed to chronic Lyme disease were evaluated for possible coinfection with Bartonella species. Elevated levels of B henselae-specific antibodies were found in these patients using the immunofluorescent assay. Bartonella henselae-specific DNA was detected in their blood. None of these patients exhibited the clinical characteristics of cat-scratch disease. Findings of cerebrospinal fluid analysis revealed the presence of both B henselae- and Borrelia burgdorferi-specific DNA. Bartonella henselae-specific DNA was also detected in live deer ticks obtained from the households of 2 of these patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data implicate B henselae as a potential human tick-borne pathogen. Patients with a history of neuroborreliosis who have incomplete resolution of symptoms should be evaluated for B henselae infection.