Bartonella bacilliformis has caused debilitating illness since pre-Incan times, but relatively little is known about its epidemiology. A population-based, prospective cohort investigation was conducted in a Peruvian community with endemic bartonellosis. By use of house-to-house and hospital surveillance methods, cohort participants were monitored for evidence of bartonellosis. Of 690 participants, 0.5% had asymptomatic bacteremia at study initiation. After 2 years of follow-up, the incidence of infection was 12.7/100 person-years. The highest rates were in children <5 years old, and there was a linear decrease in incidence with increasing age. Seventy percent of cases were clustered in 18% of households. Age and bartonellosis in a family member were the best predictors of B. bacilliformis infection. There were multiple clinical presentations and significant subclinical infection. A cost-effective control strategy should include vector control and surveillance efforts focused on children and clusters of households with highest endemicity.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Financial support: Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (grant RO87HW).
We are grateful for the support of the US Naval Medical Research Center Detachment, Lima, and thank the nurses and doctors of the Ministry of Health Regional Hospital, Caraz, for making this research possible.