What is Bartonella Rash?
Bartonella refers to a group of bacteria that live inside cells of the body and are protected from the immune system. They are present amongst many species of the mammal population. The resulting disease after infection is called Bartonellosis.
In other words, when a person has a case of bartonella, they develop erythematosus papules which can be in the form of spots, splotches or raised marks. One of the most common bartonella known is the Bartonella henselae which causes cat scratch fever. A scratch from a cat that is carrying this bacterial strain can result in many symptoms, out of which bartonella rash is one. Other common conditions caused due to Bartonella are trench fever, endocarditis and Carrion’s disease.
Many different species of the bartonella bacteria have been discovered but scientists are discovering further species as well. The type of bartonella strain in the body also impacts the range of symptoms the afflicted individual would show.
Symptoms of Bartonella Rash
• The rash appears in the form of streaks that closely resemble stretch marks gained due to pregnancy or weight gain.
• The rash appears in the form of short, medium or long striations or sometimes red spots. The appearance of the rash can be confusing for some as it could resemble rashes from other health conditions.
• The rash is usually red in color. If scratched or rubbed, the rash splotches or spots get brighter and more prominent. This can happen post a warm shower as well.
• It appears slightly raised
• It usually appears on the upper limbs, head and neck region but can occasionally be found on the lower limbs.
• The skin and the mucosal membranes can also be afflicted by the rash.
• The rash initially does not itch or hurt but can create uncomfortable sensations when left untreated.
Causes of Bartonella Rash
Bartonella is usually transmitted through bites of fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, sand flies or scratches and bites from a contaminated animal. When the bacterium enters the body, it enters the endothelial cells and inhabits them. The endothelial cells are the cells that make up the innermost walls of the blood vessels and the lymphatic vessels. Bartonella can also infect the internal organs like liver, spleen and heart.
The bartonella induces the production of VEGF, vascular endothelial growth factor, which is a protein produced that stimulates the growth of new blood vessels. This is a natural process which gets unnaturally stimulated by the bartonella. As the stimulation is rapid, the capillaries open and dispel blood which manifests as the raised splotches on the skin.
Differential Diagnoses for Bartonella Rash
As the rash is evident, it can be confused with rashes that accompany other diseases or maybe even a cash of acne or hives. Differential diagnoses for bartonella rash include rash caused by:
Atypical Mycobacterial Diseases
Diagnosis of Bartonella Rash
The rash is just one of the many symptoms of Bartonella. Sometimes the rash appears on the body only when the bacterium has been infecting the person for some time. It is necessary to know the other symptoms associated with the condition. If two or more of these symptoms appear, it is advisable to consult a medical doctor and get the symptoms examined. It is important to be aware of the differential diagnoses that can be made for bartonella rash.
Associated Symptoms of Bartonella Rash
The following are the symptoms of bartonella that appear along with the rash. They may also appear before the rash sets in. Therefore, for effective treatment, it is important to be aware of these symptoms:
• High Temperature
• Swollen lymph glands
• Eye infections
• Enlarged liver
• Blurred vision
• Memory loss
• Unsteady gait
• Poor appetite
Prognosis of Bartonella Rash
When the rash initially appears on the body, it isn’t severe. But if left untreated, it can spread and become uncomfortable for the person. In most of the cases, if the condition is treated, the rash disappears but in some situations, the treatment may take some time to show its effects.
Testing for Bartonella Rash
Even though home tests are available for checking fever and high temperature, some other tests would be used to check the antibody levels of the person. The Immuno-Fluorescence Test is often used to locate the presence of antibodies to the bartonella henselae antigens. This diagnostic test is used along with other medical assessment done by the doctor. The B Henselae PCR Test is used to check for the presence of the bacterium specific DNA in the bloodstream or in the cerebrospinal fluid. The Fluorescent In-Situ Hybridization or FISH test is used to detect ribosomal RNA of the bacterium in a blood smear.
Treatment for Bartonella Rash
The doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotics to be administered. Usually patients respond well to this treatment modality and there is no need to go for further treatment. Medication such as Doxycycline, Erythromycin, Ciprofloxacin and Levofloxacin may be prescribed. Sometimes the antibiotics are not a permanent solution and the rash comes back.
Usually the cat scratch disease resolves itself without any treatment needed. Antibiotics may be prescribed by the doctor but it may not really be effective in shortening the duration of the condition. Antibiotics prescribed for the cat scratch disease would include tetracyclines, macrolides and aminoglycosides.
Bartonella Rash Pictures
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are there any natural solutions to treat Bartonella Rash?
Natural solutions can also be considered by the patient. The patient should avoid processed foods, toxins, petrochemicals, stress, hectic and unhealthy lifestyle habits that reduce the immunity of the body and allow the bacterium to thrive within the body. When these factors are controlled and the patient adopts a better diet, exercise, proper sleep schedule and also eliminates stress from their lives, the effects and extent of the spread of the infection can be controlled.
2. Apart from animal and insect bites, can bartonella be spread in other ways?
Yes, it is possible that intravenous drug users who use the same needles can pass the pathogen on. Some research also suggests that an infected mother can pass it on to her baby during gestation.
3. Can there be a possibility of relapse after treatment?
Yes, patients may suffer from bartonella relapses as the bacteria may be present in the red blood cells which may form a protective house for the bacteria.
4. Are there any serious health complications with bartonella?
Patients could also suffer from breathlessness, palpitations and chest pain.
5. Are there any emotional effects of bartonella infection?
Yes, the patient could suffer from depression and anger issues that could arise due to the rash being uncomfortable and the other symptoms associated with the infection.
6. What are the neurological effects of bartonella rash?
The neurological effects of bartonella rash include reduction in cognitive processing, memory loss, restlessness, insomnia and poor balance and coordination.
Bartonella Rash is a symptom of Bartonella which is an infection caused by bacteria that inhabits the endothelial cells of the blood vessels. The infection is spread through ticks, fleas and bites of certain animals.