Bartonella henselae SucB - IgM

Optimal Result: 0 - 10 Units.

Several species of Bartonella bacteria cause disease in people. Infection with any one of these bacteria is referred to broadly as bartonellosis, although some forms of infection also have common names (for example, cat scratch disease). 

Bartonella bacteria are spread to humans by fleas, body lice, sand flies, or contact with flea-infested animals. There is no evidence that ticks spread Bartonella infection to people. In the United States, the most common form of bartonellosis is caused by Bartonella henselae.

People become infected with Bartonella henselae from the scratch of domestic or feral cats, particularly kittens. Cats can have fleas that carry B. henselae bacteria. These bacteria can be transmitted from a cat to a person during a scratch that is contaminated with flea stool. Infected cats that lick a person’s open wound or bite can also spread the bacteria. Some evidence suggests that these bacteria may spread directly to people by the bite of infected cat fleas, but this has not been proven.

B. henselae infection (CSD) occurs most often in children under the age of 15. Though more common in the southeast, CSD occurs throughout the United States. Stray cats are more likely than pets to be infected with B. henselae. In the United States, most cases of CSD occur in the fall and winter.

Signs and symptoms:

- Low-grade fever

- Enlarged, tender lymph nodes that develop 1–3 weeks after exposure to a cat

- A papule or pustule at the site of the scratch

Rarely, infections of the eye, liver, spleen, brain, bones, or heart valves can occur. Some of these infections occur primarily in people with weakened immune systems, such as those with advanced HIV infection.


As with many Bartonella species, B. henselae can sometimes cause infection of the heart valves, called endocarditis. In many cases, blood cultures might be negative (culture-negative endocarditis), which can make the diagnosis more challenging.


- Avoid cat scratches, bites, and licks, especially from kittens or stray cats. This is especially important for people who have weakened immune systems.

- Wash hands promptly after handling cats.

- Talk to your veterinarian about flea prevention products for your cat. (Never use products that contain permethrin on cats.)

- Keep cats indoors and away from stray cats. People who have weakened immune systems should avoid owning cats less than one-year-old.


Dihydrolipoamide-succinyltransferase (SucB), an enzyme of the alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complex, has been shown to be an immunogenic protein during infections by Brucella melitensis, Coxiella burnetii and Bartonella vinsonii.

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