Bartonella Neuroretinitis: There Is More to Cat Scratch Disease than Meets the Eye

Raina Saxena, Nishan Gajjar, Bernard Karnath, You Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Background: Case Report: Conclusions: Challenging differential diagnosis Cat scratch disease (CSD) is a self-limited infection caused by Bartonella henselae that causes lymphadenitis, fevers, skin changes at the inoculation site, headache, nausea, and ocular symptoms. Bartonella neuroretinitis is a form of CSD that presents with ocular symptoms, such as a central scotoma, rather than the typical lymph-adenopathy of CSD. Bartonella neuroretinitis is the most common cause of infectious neuroretinitis leading to painless vision loss. Symptoms can mimic the more common optic neuritis, which can lead to under-diagno-sis. Early diagnosis of Bartonella neuroretinitis and initiation of appropriate treatment is crucial to prevent vision loss and shorten recovery time. A 47-year-old man presented to the Emergency Department with nonspecific symptoms of headache, fevers, and visual changes. He was noted to have adopted a cat 2 months prior to presentation. A dilated fundus examination revealed grade 3 optic disc edema with small disc hemorrhages bilaterally without lymphadenopathy, and Bartonella henselae serologies returned positive for the disease. The patient was treated with doxycycline and rifampin at discharge. At his follow-up outpatient ophthalmology visit, the patient had symptomatically improved vision, with dilated fundus examination supporting reduced optic disc edema in the right eye. Early recognition and treatment of Bartonella neuroretinitis is essential to prevent vision loss and shorten recovery time. The current standard of treatment is doxycycline and rifampin for 4 to 6 weeks, and a growing body of literature indicates the supplementation of corticosteroids with these antibiotics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere938380
JournalAmerican Journal of Case Reports
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Bartonella henselae
  • Cat-Scratch Disease
  • Retinitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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