Identification of Bartonella henselae in an aborted equine fetus. Academic Article uri icon


  • This report describes the characterization of a Bartonella henselae abortion in an equine fetus by gross, histologic, immunohistochemical, ultrastructural, and molecular methods. Bartonella henselae can cause cat scratch disease, bacillary angiomatosis, bacillary peliosis, and endocarditis in humans and other animals. The bacterium has been isolated from several mammalian species but only recently from equids; however, it has not been linked to abortion in equids. An aborted equine fetus exhibited necrosis and vasculitis in multiple tissues, with intralesional Gram-negative short-to-spirillar bacteria. Nucleotide sequence analysis of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene amplified from the DNA extracted from fetal tissues revealed 99.9% homology to that of B. henselae. The presence of B. henselae in the fetal tissues was further confirmed by polymerase chain reaction amplification and nucleotide sequence analysis of other Bartonella species-specific genes. Microorganisms were immunohistochemically labeled with a monoclonal antibody to B. henselae and were ultrastructurally characterized. Attempts to detect known causative agents of equine abortion were unsuccessful. Given the severity of vasculitis and the presence of intralesional bacteria, we concluded that B. henselae infection caused the abortion of this foal.

published proceedings

  • Vet Pathol

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Johnson, R., Ramos-Vara, J., & Vemulapalli, R.

citation count

  • 18

complete list of authors

  • Johnson, R||Ramos-Vara, J||Vemulapalli, R

publication date

  • March 2009