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Chronic sinusitis and Bartonella in Cats

Berryessa NA, Johnson LR, Kasten RW, Chomel BB. Microbial culture of blood samples and serologic testing for bartonellosis in cats with chronic rhinosinusitis. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 2008;233(7):1084-1089.

Chronic rhinosinutitis (CRS) is a frequent and frustrating medical disorder of cats. A common finding is excessive accumulation of nasal mucus along with sneezing, nasal discharge, and turbinate bone damage. The underlying cause for this disease is most likely multifactorial and due to a mix of a viral infection, secondary bacterial infection, and a poorly developed immune response. Treatment has primarily been directed at the result of the disease instead of potential causes. Bartonella are blood borne organisms most likely transmitted to cats through exposure to flea feces. Bartonella have been implicated in nasal inflammation in small animals and often private clinicians will test for the organism along with treating with azithromycin on the assumption that Bartonella is present. This study consisted of 4 groups of cats. The first group (19 cats) was composed of cats with CRS whose diagnosis was based on having a mucopurulent discharge longer than 3 months. The remaining 3 control groups were cats with other nasal diseases (Group 2: 10 cats), cats with systemic disease with no nasal disease (Group 3: 15 cats), and healthy cats (Group 4: 15 cats). All cats in the study had serologic testing for Bartonella henselae and Bartonella clarridgeiae and microbial cultures of blood samples performed. In those cats where nasal disease was evaluated, a biopsy sample was taken for histologic examination and another biopsy sample saved for PCR assay to detect Bartonella. The results of the study showed no significant differences in seropositivity or culture results in cats with CRS compared to the results of the 3 control groups. A positive serologic test for Bartonella would most likely indicate exposure and not presence of infection from the organism. In addition, the PCR assays of the nasal tissue samples were negative indicating that Bartonella organisms do not play an important role in the pathogenesis of CRS as demonstrated in these cats. One limitation of the study was the small number of cats enrolled. The authors do recommend a continued need to look for an association between Bartonella and other chronic inflammatory diseases in cats. [VT]
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Related articles:
Johnson L, Foley J, DeCock H, al e. Assessment of infectious organisms associated with severe chronic rhinosinusitis in cats. J Amer Vet Med Assoc. 2005;227(4):579-585.
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Quimby JM, Elston T, Hawley J, Brewer M, Miller A, Lappin MR. Evaluation of the association of Bartonella species, feline herpesvirus 1, feline calicivirus, feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus with chronic feline gingivostomatitis. J Feline Med Surg. Feb 2008;10(1):66-72.
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