Bartonella Testing FAQs
I have been suffering from fatigue and memory problems for the past year. Should I be tested for Bartonella infection?
There are many reasons why people might experience fatigue and memory problems. It’s unlikely that Bartonella is the cause of these issues. Work with your primary care physician to determine if a specialist is needed.
I heard that there are newer testing methods from laboratories that specialize in Bartonella testing. Are these new tests accurate?
Although CDC typically recommends FDA-cleared tests, there are not currently any Bartonella tests on the market that meet this standard. There are some things that you should keep in mind when evaluating the accuracy of a lab test.
- First, any laboratory that performs Bartonella serologic testing should provide you with information regarding the accuracy of the test.
- Second, be aware that while some labs may report that their tests find 100% of infected patients, this is unrealistic—the potential for false positives (and false negatives) almost always exists.
- Finally, it is important for all abnormal test results to be interpreted with your health care provider in the context of your medical history.
I got a tick bite. My friend said I should get tested for Lyme disease and Bartonella. Is that true?
We don’t recommend it. To date, no study in the United States has shown that Bartonella can be transmitted to humans by ticks. Transmission studies with ticks have only used mice and artificial feeding systems. A single study showed that one species of tick in Europe could transmit a specific species of Bartonella to mice in a laboratory setting.
Other studies have identified Bartonella in ticks, probably from ticks feeding on animals that carry Bartonella. This doesn’t mean that the bacteria can be transmitted from the tick to a person or that the bacteria can survive in the tick for any length of time.
Unfortunately there is a great deal of misinformation regarding multiple tickborne infections (called coinfections) on the internet. The possibility of having several tickborne infections at once or having pathogens such as Bartonella that have not been shown to be tickborne, is extremely unlikely.
- Telford SR and Wormser GP. Bartonella spp. transmission by ticks not established. Emerg Infect Dis. 2010 Mar;16(3):379-84.
- Lantos PM, Wormser GP. Chronic coinfections in patients diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease: a systematic reviewExternal. Am J Med. 2014 Nov;127(11):1105-10. Epub 2014 Jun 12.