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Feline Leukemia Virus & Bartonella Infections

Bartonella henselae is the agent of cat scratch fever in humans. Domestic cats are a known reservoir of this bacterium for human infection via scratches and bites. In cats, it has been associated with a number of disorders including gingivitis, stomatitis, and urinary tract diseases among others. In humans with immunosuppressive disorders, disease following Bartonella infection is much more severe; the impact of immunosuppression in cats on Bartonella infections has not been examined. These investigators collected tissue samples from nearly 150 cats euthanized at German animal shelters over a two year period and assessed them for coinfection with Bartonella and feline parvovirus (FPV), feline leukemia virus (FeLV), and/or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). The overall rate of Bartonella infection was nearly 8%. Infection of cats with this bacterium was significantly correlated with FeLV infection: of six cats with FeLV, four also had Bartonella henselae; three of these four were latently infected with FeLV (positive for viral genetic material but negative for viral proteins). No correlation with either FIV or FPV was found. The authors concluded that FeLV may enhance the susceptibility to or persistence of B henselae infection. [MK]
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