While veterinary professionals are aware of the zoonotic potential of feline Bartonellosis, the potential for this hemotropic infectious organism to cause psychiatric disorders in humans may come as a surprise.
It is important to be aware of this risk, especially since B. henselae is not uncommon among cats. In fact, according to the CDC, “Bartonella henselae bacteremia has been documented in 30-40% of domestic and adopted shelter cats.” 
Additionally, many cats can be asymptomatic which makes it particularly more tricky to know when to take extra precautions to protect ourselves from this zoonotic pathogen.
Bartonella is a bacteria most commonly associated with cat scratch disease, which until recently was thought to be a short-lived (or self-limiting) infection. There are at least 30 different known species of Bartonella, and 13 of those have been found to infect human beings.
The ability to find and diagnose Bartonella infection in animals and humans – it is notorious for “hiding” in the linings of blood vessels – has led to its identification in patients with a host of chronic illnesses ranging from migraines to seizures to rheumatoid illnesses that the medical community previously hadn’t been able to attribute to a specific cause.
Check out this article from NC state to read more about this surprising news.
This article is a great reminder to make sure we are always engaging in safe (yet low stress) handling methods and encouraging owners to keep their cats on year round ectoparasite control and indoors to reduce the possibility of picking up and spreading this and other potentially life-threatening infectious organisms!
Case Study: Bartonella and Sudden-Onset Adolescent Schizophrenia. NC State.
Hemotropic Mycoplasmas. Merck Veterinary Manual.