Bartonella bovis has been described in beef and dairy cattle worldwide, however the reported prevalence rates are inconsistent, with large variability across studies (0-89%). This study describes the first isolation and characterization of B. bovis among cattle herds in the Middle East. Blood samples from two beef cattle herds (each sampled thrice) and one dairy herd (sampled twice) in Israel were collected during a 16-months period. Overall, 71 of 95 blood samples (75%) grew Bartonella sp., with prevalence of 78% and 59% in beef and dairy cattle, respectively. High level bacteremia (≥100,000 colony forming units/mL) was detected in 25 specimens (26%). Such high-level bacteremia has never been reported in cattle. Two dairy cows and one beef cow remained bacteremic when tested 60 or 120 days apart, respectively, suggesting that cattle may have persistent bacteremia. One third of animals were infested with ticks. Sequence analysis of a gltA fragment of 32 bacterial isolates from 32 animals revealed 100% homology to B. bovis. Species identification was confirmed by sequence analysis of the rpoB gene. Phylogenetic analysis based on the concatenated sequences of gltA and rpoB demonstrated that the isolates described herein form a monophyletic group with B. bovis strains originating from cattle worldwide. Taken together, the high prevalence of bacteremia, including high-level bacteremia, in beef and dairy cattle, the potential to develop prolonged bacteremia, the exposure of cattle to arthropod vectors, and proximity of infected animals to humans, make B. bovis a potential zoonotic agent.
- Bartonella bovis