Bartonella bacteria are disease-causing, blood-borne pathogens found in various mammal species. A study in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases by Hannah Frank and colleagues at Stanford University, California suggests that humans play an important role in disease risk, infection patterns, and distribution of Bartonella, advancing current understanding of Bartonella‘s evolutionary history and how the bacteria may be transmitted between humans and other animal species.
Cross-species Bartonella transmission poses a threat to public health, wildlife, and domestic animals. However, the evolution of Bartonella strains and mechanisms of cross-species transmission are not well understood. To determine the bacteria’s evolutionary history and global distribution, researchers constructed global phylogenies using sequences accessed from public databases and built models to test their hypotheses. Additionally, they analyzed instances of Bartonella spillover from animals to humans using genetic isolates and case data collected from scientific literature.
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