Research Final Update CHF 02287: Enhanced Testing for the Diagnosis of Bartonellosis in Dogs

Research Final Update from Dr. Breitschwerdt to enhance ability to diagnose Bartonellosis.

This AKC-CHF funded research has resulted in substantial refinement of our Bartonella serodiagnostic testing knowledge of healthy dogs (pets, working dogs and potential blood donors) and sick dogs being evaluated for a differential diagnosis of Bartonellosis.

Based upon testing and comparing results using eight different Bartonella species or strains, we were able to identify two species that when used in combination should increase serodiagnostic sensitivity compared to the three strains that we have used diagnostically for the past decade. As these are not the two species currently in use diagnostically, our historical testing most likely underestimated the prevalence of Bartonella antibodies in seroepidemiological studies published by our research group and more importantly failed to report positive Bartonella spp. serological results that could be used to guide therapy in a sick dog.

In both our research and diagnostic laboratory testing, we have always adhered to the adage: The kindest form of therapy is an accurate diagnosis. This study also allowed us to begin to assess the utility of another serodiagnostic technique called Western immunoblotting for assessment of a dog’s exposure to a Bartonella spp. WB interpretation can be challenging and this study has allowed us to compare IFA and WB sensitivities and to define minimal criteria for reporting a “positive” WB.

Our efforts to date have identified individual and potential combinations of small Bartonella proteins (peptides) that appear to have diagnostic utility as an inhouse rapid assay that could be used by veterinarians to rapidly determine if a dog has been exposed to a Bartonella spp. We are currently purifying individual proteins and assessing other peptide combinations in an effort to define an assay with optimal sensitivity and specificity.

This brief paragraph does not do justice to the numerous hours of research effort that was made possible because of the research funding support from the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation or the dogs and their owners who will ultimate benefit from these findings, as we improve serodiagnosis of bartonellosis.

Final Research Update Dr. Breitschwerdt to enhance ability to diagnose Bartonellosis.