Prospective serological and molecular cross-sectional study focusing on Bartonella and other blood-borne organisms in cats from Catalonia (Spain)

Alejandra Álvarez-Fernández, Ricardo Maggi, Gerard Eduard Martín-Valls, Marta Baxarias, Edward Bealmear Breitschwerdt, Laia Solano-Gallego*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: There is limited clinical or epidemiological knowledge regarding Bartonella infection in cats, and no serological studies have compared the presence of antibodies against different Bartonella species. Moreover, there are limited feline Bartonella studies investigating co-infections with other vector-borne pathogens and the associated risk factors. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate Bartonella spp. infections and co-infections with other pathogens in cats from Barcelona (Spain) based on serological and/or molecular techniques and to determine associated risk factors. Methods: We studied colony and owned cats (n = 135). Sera were tested for Bartonella henselae-, Bartonella quintana-, and Bartonella koehlerae-specific antibodies using endpoint in-house immunofluorescence antibody assays. Bartonella real-time PCR (qPCR) and conventional PCR (cPCR) were performed. In addition, cPCR followed by DNA sequencing was performed for other pathogenic organisms (Anaplasma, Babesia, Cytauxzoon, Ehrlichia, Hepatozoon, hemotropic Mycoplasma, and Theileria spp.). Results: From 135 cats studied, 80.7% were seroreactive against at least one Bartonella species. Bartonella quintana, B. koehlerae, and B. henselae seroreactivity was 67.4, 77.0, and 80.7%, respectively. Substantial to almost perfect serological agreement was found between the three Bartonella species. Colony cats were more likely to be Bartonella spp.-seroreactive than owned cats. Moreover, cats aged ≤ 2 years were more likely to be Bartonella spp.-seroreactive. Bartonella spp. DNA was detected in the blood of 11.9% (n = 16) of cats. Cats were infected with B. henselae (n = 12), B. clarridgeiae (n = 3), and B. koehlerae (n = 1). Mycoplasma spp. DNA was amplified from 14% (n = 19) of cat blood specimens. Cats were infected with Mycoplasma haemofelis (n = 8), Candidatus M. haemominutum (n = 6), Candidatus Mycoplasma turicensis (n = 4), and Mycoplasma wenyonii (n = 1). Anaplasma, Babesia, Cytauxzoon, Ehrlichia spp., Hepatozoon, and Theileria spp. DNA was not amplified from any blood sample. Of the 16 Bartonella spp.-infected cats based on PCR results, six (37%) were co-infected with Mycoplasma spp. Conclusions: Bartonella spp. and hemoplasma infections are prevalent in cats from the Barcelona area, whereas infection with Anaplasma spp., Babesia, Cytauxzoon, Ehrlichia spp., Hepatozoon, and Theileria infections were not detected. Co-infection with hemotropic Mycoplasma appears to be common in Bartonella-infected cats. To our knowledge, this study is the first to document M. wenyonii is infection in cats. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Pages (from-to)6
Number of pages14
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2022


  • Anaplasma
  • Bartonellosis
  • Cats
  • Co-infection
  • Ehrlichia
  • Hemotropic Mycoplasma
  • Mycoplasma wenyonii
  • Piroplasma
  • SPP.
  • Spain


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