Serologic testing for Bartonella in Manitoba, Canada, 2010-2020: a retrospective case series

Carl Boodman, Terence Wuerz, Philippe Lagacé-Wiens, Robbin Lindsay, Antonia Dibernardo, Jared Bullard, Derek R Stein, Yoav Keynan

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Bartonella are gram-negative bacilli not identified by routine bacterial culture. The objectives of this study were to review the results of all serologic testing for Bartonella ordered in Manitoba, Canada, and to review cases with positive test results among adults to assess species identification, risk factors, clinical manifestations and outcomes.

METHODS: This retrospective study included all Bartonella serologic tests ordered in Manitoba and performed at the National Microbiology Laboratory, Winnipeg, from Jan. 1, 2010, until Dec. 31, 2020. We analyzed the aggregate data for all serologic tests for Bartonella for patients of all ages. We reviewed the charts of adult (age ≥ 18 yr) patients with serologic positivity for Bartonella who had a medical chart at 1 of Winnipeg's 2 largest hospitals (Health Sciences Centre and St. Boniface Hospital) to extract clinical and demographic data and create a case series. Descriptive statistics were performed.

RESULTS: During the study period, 1014 Bartonella serologic tests were ordered in adult and pediatric patients, of which 24 (2.4%) gave a positive result. Sixteen adults (12 men and 4 women; mean age 48 yr) seen at a participating hospital had a positive result. Molecular species-level identification occurred on explanted cardiac valves in 5 (31%) of the 16 cases; B. quintana was identified in all 5. Six patients (38%) were diagnosed with probable B. quintana infection, for a total of 11 B. quintana cases (69%); 8 (73%) of the 11 had endocarditis. Four cases of B. quintana infection (36%) were associated with rural residence. Four cases (25%) of probable B. henselae were identified; 2 patients had fever and lymphadenopathy, and 2 had endocarditis. The remaining patient was deemed to have a false-positive result as his B. henselae titre was at the threshold for positivity, his B. quintana serologic test gave a negative result, and his clinical syndrome was not suggestive of Bartonella infection. Two patients died; both had multivalvular B. quintana endocarditis with ruptured intracranial mycotic aneurysms.

INTERPRETATION: Bartonella quintana was a common cause of Bartonella serologic positivity among adults in Manitoba in 2010-2020 and was associated with endocarditis and systemic embolization. As B. quintana is transmitted by body lice, active case finding for people who lack suitable housing, both in urban and rural settings, should prioritize those with elevated Bartonella titres to receive echocardiography and detect endocarditis before systemic embolization occurs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCMAJ open
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)E476-E482
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Adult
  • Bartonella/genetics
  • Canada/epidemiology
  • Child
  • Endocarditis
  • Endocarditis, Bacterial/diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manitoba/epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies


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