BACKGROUND Bartonella spp. are neglected fastidious Gram-negative bacilli. We isolated Bartonella henselae from 1.2% of 500 studied blood donors and demonstrated that the bacteria remain viable in red blood cell units after 35 days of experimental infection. Now, we aim to evaluate the possibility of B. henselae transmission by blood transfusion in a mouse model. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS Eight BALB/c mice were intraperitoneal inoculated with a 30 μL of suspension with 104 CFU/mL of B. henselae and a second group of eight mice were inoculated with saline solution and used as control. After 96 hours of inoculation, the animals were euthanized. We collected blood and tissue samples from skin, liver, and spleen. Thirty microliters of blood from four Bartonella-inoculated animals were transfused into a new group (n = 4). Another group received blood from the control animals. B. henselae infection was investigated by conventional and nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR). RESULTS Blood samples from all 24 mice were negative by molecular tests though half of the tissue samples were positive by nested PCR in the intraperitoneal Bartonella-investigated animals. Tissues from two of the four mice that received blood transfusions from Bartonella-inoculated animals were also nested PCR positives. CONCLUSIONS Transmission of B. henselae by transfusion is possible in mice even when donor animals have undetectable bloodstream infection. The impact of human Bartonella sp. transmission through blood transfusion recipients must be evaluated.
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