Bartonella species are emerging infectious organisms transmitted by arthropods capable of causing long-lasting infection in mammalian hosts. Among over 30 species described from four continents to date, 15 are known to infect humans, with eight of these capable of infecting dogs as well. B. bacilliformis is the only species described infecting humans in Peru; however, several other Bartonella species were detected in small mammals, bats, ticks, and fleas in that country. The objective of this study was to determine the serological and/or molecular prevalence of Bartonella species in asymptomatic dogs in Peru in order to indirectly evaluate the potential for human exposure to zoonotic Bartonella species. A convenient sample of 219 healthy dogs was obtained from five cities and three villages in Peru. EDTA-blood samples were collected from 205 dogs, whereas serum samples were available from 108 dogs. The EDTA-blood samples were screened by PCR followed by nucleotide sequencing for species identification. Antibodies against B. vinsonii berkhoffii and B. rochalimae were detected by IFA (cut-off of 1:64). Bartonella DNA was detected in 21 of the 205 dogs (10%). Fifteen dogs were infected with B. rochalimae, while six dogs were infected with B. v. berkhoffii genotype III. Seropositivity for B. rochalimae was detected in 67 dogs (62%), and for B. v. berkhoffii in 43 (40%) of the 108 dogs. Reciprocal titers ≥1:256 for B. rochalimae were detected in 19% of dogs, and for B. v. berkhoffii in 6.5% of dogs. This study identifies for the first time a population of dogs exposed to or infected with zoonotic Bartonella species, suggesting that domestic dogs may be the natural reservoir of these zoonotic organisms. Since dogs are epidemiological sentinels, Peruvian humans may be exposed to infections with B. rochalimae or B. v. berkhoffii.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases