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Widening of the clinical spectrum of Bartonella henselae infection as recognized through serodiagnostics

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The recently improved diagnostics have widened, in children, the spectrum of clinical manifestations recognisable as Bartonella henselae infection. We report here the clinical features of 20 (14 males) consecutive children with serologically proved B. henselae infection observed within 12 months in the Paediatric Department of the University of Pisa. The patients had a mean age of 7 years 4 months (range 1.1–14.1 years). All children but one had a history of contact with kittens. Clinical manifestations included regional lymphadenopathy in 14 patients, representing in five the only clinical manifestation at onset, infectious mononucleosis-like syndrome in six, erythema nodosum in three, and Parinaud oculoglandular syndrome in one. In five patients a severe disorder was first suspected: fever of unknown origin in two with multiple hepatosplenic granulomatosis in one; osteolityc lesion suggesting bone neoplasm, marked inguinal lymph-node enlargement, suggesting Burkitt lymphoma, and an acute encephalopathy in one each. Bartonella henselae IgG antibody was positive in all patients with a titre ranging from 1:128 to 1:8590. IgM antibody was present in all except one child with an IgG titre of 1:2048. All patients recovered, some spontaneously.

Conclusion Bartonella henselae infection is frequent in Tuscany and probably underdiagnosed due to the high frequency of atypical onset of the clinical manifestations. An accurate clinical history and a reasonably wide use of the serological test may allow a rapid and accurate diagnosis, reassuring the family of the patient and avoiding invasive and expensive diagnostic procedures.

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Received: 14 June 1999 and in revised form 16 October 1999 / Accepted: 22 November 1999

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Massei, F., Messina, F., Talini, I. et al. Widening of the clinical spectrum of Bartonella henselae infection as recognized through serodiagnostics. Eur J Pediatr 159, 416–419 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004310051298

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  • Key wordsBartonella henselae
  • Cat-scratch disease
  • AbbreviationCSD cat-scratch disease