Ahead of the Curve: Essay on Bartonella and the Silent Epidemic

Ahead of the Curve: Essay on Bartonella and the Silent Epidemic

The evolution of bacteria has preceded and will supersede human existence. Microbial intelligence is not a theory, it’s a well-documented fact although world domination through bacterial invasion is one of the less popular discussions unless someone has succumbed to the personal indignity of an immune system override. At the end of the world, bacteria will win. They set the stage like fungi on bark to break down and recycle the undesirable whether we acknowledge their victory or not.

This is referencing one gram-negative bacteria in particular; one so common that you or your spouse or your household pet may be an unidentified reservoir. In the past five years[i] this rapidly spreading stealth bacterium has quietly risen to the attention of many doctors, scientists, researchers, and laboratories; some of whom stand to profit greatly off our ignorance of them. Someone always stands to profit during war. Many of us are, in fact, at war within ourselves with pathogens our beloved animals have introduced through their lick, bite, scratch, or unnoticed flea bite.[ii]

Decades after it was identified as “cat scratch fever” this elusive and menacing microbial terrorist within our tissues has a new, anticlimactic name: Bartonellosis—Infection by Bartonella Henselae. Cat owners are being bitten by fleas and scratched by their feline companions[iii] which is expediting Bartonella Henselae’s climb to the top of the food chain through our own beloved pets.

Bartonella’s victims appear to be uniformly immunocompromised[iv]; but which came first, the immune system down-regulation or the Bartonella Infection? It’s a chicken or egg question.

Broadly speaking, Bartonella is a genus of gram-negative bacteria lumped under the umbrella definition of “Lyme” or “Lyme Coinfection” and missed by the Western Blot which may or may not register a positive band or two, ultimately testing negative.

Antibodies tend to be low for Bartonella Henslae, a survival tactic for the freeloader, so PCR testing is standard. There are other monsters under this bed that work synergistically to impair the host’s immune defenses after an insect bite. These may include (and are not limited to) Strep, Borrelia, and Babesia according to Beth Lambert, author of Brain Under Attack. In fact, they’re very often found coexisting and if one colony takes a hit, the other rises to power. This article is focused on one specific strain of Bartonella and the ease of zoonotic transmission between pets and people, especially between cats and cat owners, but no companion animal is safe from infection.[v] Ticks are a well-known danger but hardly anyone thinks of their kitten’s claws or cat fleas as sources of disease transmission!

Cutting edge researchers and documentarians are fascinated with Bartonella but they’re of varied opinion on the subject. Kris Newby, author of the newly released book Bitten, claims Bartonella Henselae was tested by the U.S. government for its potential as a weapon “designed to create a prolonged period of incapacitation across a population” spread by rat fleas during trials. This theory doesn’t explain why more than half of the feral feline population tests positive for Bartonella Henslae[vi] in a comprehensive study completed in Europe.

Other far less nefarious conjectures are supported by authors like Stephen Buhner, Healing Lyme Disease Coinfections, who pronounced the insidious spread of these infectious colonies the result of “overpopulation and the environmental disruption it causes.” Buhner found popularity with Lyme sufferers for his herbal protocol to suppress the cytokine cascade caused by Bartonella and other microbial invaders that hijack inflammatory processes throughout the body. His books especially found favor with women suffering from Myalgias who prefer a more natural approach than antibiotics alone to control widespread, often “undiagnosable” mystery pain. Buhner may be referencing ideology from the likes of Jonas Salk, “revered developer of the polio vaccine” who created an evolutionary philosophy to “solve problems caused by the overpopulation of humankind.” One such overpopulation problem was the continued encroachment of humans and their residential sprawl into areas otherwise occupied by wildlife and the biodiverse microbial populations they host. In a nutshell: we may be getting more bug bites these days because there are less animals for the bugs to bite and more people in their place.

Scientists say Bartonella Henselae has a propensity for occupying blood cells during periods of active infection before jumping ship and possibly living synergistically inside of parasites[vii], within biofilms or even the in dead-space of a root canalled tooth[viii] to evade antibiotic treatment. There is evidence that the colonies have a vasoconstrictive effect, preventing blood flow to the brain during episodes of increased microbial activity and throwing the body into a chronic cycle of inflammation. Veterinarians, companion animal owners, Humane Society workers, cattle farmers and the like are at increased risk of zoonotic transmission. Bartonella is so heavily prevalent in the feline population[ix] that it may have given rise to the nickname “crazy cat lady” as owning numerous cats increases the chances of exposure to Bartonella.

CEO of Galaxy Diagnostics and co-author of Lyme Savvy, Dr Mozayeni, has studied Bartonella Henselae extensively. He states symptoms are often neurological or neuropsychiatric causing some of the most poignant human suffering he has ever seen. He found infected patients to have “poor cognitive function, anxiety, impaired thought processing, mood swings, sudden onset of anxiety, rage, and a wide variety of other issues.” Some he described as alienated from normal thoughts and feelings, “depersonalized” with great outbursts of unexplained anger, volatile behavior or deep depression.

Do you lose your mind on full moon[x]? Maybe it’s Bartonella. Throbbing bone pain in your left foot? Maybe it’s Bartonella. Feeling better after an anti-worm protocol[xi]? Maybe it’s bartonella! There is exciting, newly emerging methodology that is greatly improving the lives of people with depression, memory loss, irritability and other previously treatment-resistant symptoms.

We do know through clinical observation and testing that Bartonella will lie low, flying under the radar and using macrophage evasion tactics until it can opportunistically launch an attack during periods of immunocompromise. Even after treatment it can appear to be “cured” but will often just lie dormant until the next opportunity. Similar microbes and bacterium resembling Lyme have been found in a 5,300 year old mummy removed from a glacier in the Italian Alps (a man who died from an arrow in his back, not Lyme) suggesting bacteria have a long and natural history of surviving through a wide range of hosts over the millennium. They may have even been friendly. So, what changed? The microbes or their terrain? Did the companion animals we love succumb to higher levels of pathogens and if so, why? Are the bacteria (and other microbes) evolving to take back their world?

To further complicate a controversial topic, we seem oblivious not only to the microbial colonies within us but to the potential contraindications they create. William Rawls M.D. states in his book Unlocking Lyme that “flu vaccines can protect you from coming down with the flu, but they can also cause flare-ups of chronic Lyme disease symptoms… allowing intracellular microbes to flourish.” This may very well be a convincing argument against mandatory flu shots until a more reliable method of testing for microbial infection is established. Vaccination relies on the immune system’s predictable response to provoking antibody production but an immune system hijacked by gram negative bacteria like Bartonella is far from predictable. Avoiding the flu by getting a flu shot may be enough to tip one’s immune defenses in a downward direction, giving microbial colonies the upper hand temporarily… or longer. More cohesive research in this area appears to be needed before we claim “safety and efficacy” for all routine vaccinations, especially for those possibly compromised by an opportunistic, ancient pathogen that plans to survive long beyond our extinction. We will need to try much harder if we plan to outsmart Bartonella Henselae in the long run.