Pilot study finds evidence of bartonella infection in schizo
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A pilot study has found evidence of Bartonella infection in the blood of people with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

Bartonella is bacteria historically associated with cat-scratch disease, which until recently was thought to be solely a short-lived (or self-limiting) infection. Cats can become infected with Bartonella via exposure to fleas and potentially ticks, which are natural vectors of the bacteria.

The research team enrolled a group of 17 people with stable, medically managed schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, and a control group of 13 healthy adults, to test for evidence of Bartonella infection. All participants filled out questionnaires on the severity of symptoms and potential Bartonella exposure. Blood samples were taken from participants. The samples were cultured, and both cultured and whole blood samples underwent qPCR and droplet digital, or ddPCR testing, at seven-, 14- and 21-day intervals, to look for evidence of Bartonella organism-specific DNA. Blood samples were also tested for Bartonella species-specific antibodies.

Of the 17 patients with schizophrenia, 12 had Bartonella DNA in their blood, as compared to only one of 13 in the control group. According to the questionnaires, both patients and controls reported similar pet ownership and flea exposures.

"Many of these patients have been undergoing care for years," the author says. "What we're starting to see is a pattern—Bartonella can persist for a long time. And for the subset of people who can't eliminate the infection, the bacteria can cause chronic or progressive illness."

Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Source: https://doi.org/10.1089/vbz.2020.2729
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