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Uncovering the Complexity of Bartonellosis

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Beginning his career studying cat scratch disease, which is caused by a species of bacteria in the genus Bartonella, Ed Breitschwerdt, a veterinarian and professor of medicine in infectious disease at the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University, began to realize that this genus was Click to Enlarge Imagerife with other species that can infect mammals; in 1993, he discovered a new species of Bartonella that causes lupus-like symptoms in a dog named Tumbleweed.

Based on two decades of research, Dr. Breitschwerdt has shown that these bacteria can live in the bloodstream of mammals and are transmitted between them by a variety of insect vectors and by cat scratches. His work has linked Bartonella infection with a variety of chronic and acute symptoms that vary across species and can affect humans. But it hasn't been easy to study these infections: Once in the blood stream, Bartonella evades the immune system, is difficult to detect, and is easily misdiagnosed. Many questions remain about Bartonellosis.

Dr. Breitschwerdt goes into more depth with associate editor Katie L. Burke about his research on the bacteria Bartonella.

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