What is the role of medications in the treatment of bartonellosis (Bartonella infection)?

Updated: Jun 19, 2019
  • Author: Kassem A Hammoud, MD; Chief Editor: Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD  more...
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Bartonellosis is generally treated with macrolides, tetracyclines, aminoglycosides, or chloramphenicol. Chloramphenicol is not usually used to treat either B henselae or B quintana infection, although it has been used to treat B bacilliformis infection. Chloramphenicol has been primarily used to treat Oroya fever.

Duration of therapy is commonly at least 3 weeks. Patients should be monitored for evidence of response and drug toxicity. Because these infections often fail to respond to therapy or patients experience relapse later, switching to antibiotics from other classes (eg, erythromycin, clarithromycin, azithromycin, trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole, or ciprofloxacin) may be needed. Gentamicin may also be effective.

Longer duration of therapy, from 3 weeks to 2 months, may be required for patients who have peliosis hepatis or disseminated disease, including bacteremia.

A culture-negative endocarditis treatment regimen should include an aminoglycoside (gentamicin) for 2 weeks and ceftriaxone with or without doxycycline for 6 weeks.

If bartonellosis is proven, the guidelines recommend using a regimen consisting of doxycycline for at least 6 weeks plus gentamicin (1 mg/kg IV q8h for 14 d).

Valve replacement is required in approximately 80% of cases, but overall prognosis is good, with survival rates of 80%.

Patients in the acute phase of Carrión disease should receive ciprofloxacin and, alternatively, chloramphenicol plus penicillin G. Patients in the eruptive phase of the disease should receive rifampin and, alternatively, azithromycin or erythromycin.

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