In a recent case study, researchers at North Carolina State University recount an adolescent human patient diagnosed with rapid onset schizophrenia who was found instead to have a Bartonella henselae infection. This supports the growing body of proof that Bartonella infection can mimic a multitude of chronic illnesses, including mental illness, and pave the way for new research avenues into bacterial or microbial causes of mental disorders.
Bartonella is a bacteria most frequently associated with cat scratch disease, which until recently was believed to be a short-lived (or self-limiting) infection. There are no less than 30 different known species of Bartonella, and 13 of those have been identified as infecting human beings. The ability to find and diagnose Bartonella infection in animals and humans—it is renowned for “hiding” in the linings of blood vessels—has led to its identification in patients with a host of chronic illnesses ranging from Migraines to Seizures to Rheumatoid illnesses that the medical community previously hadn’t been able to assign to a exact cause.
In a case study published in the Journal of Central Nervous Disease, an adolescent with sudden onset psychotic behavior—diagnosed as schizophrenia—was seen and treated by numerous specialists and therapists over an 18-month period. All traditional treatments for both psychosis and autoimmune disorders failed. Finally a physician recognized lesions on the patient’s skin that are often associated with Bartonella, and the patient tested positive for the infection. Combination antimicrobial chemotherapy resulted in a complete recovery.
“This case is interesting for a number of reasons,” says Dr.
Ed Breitschwerdt, Melanie S. Steele Distinguished Professor of Internal
Medicine at NC State and lead author of the case report. “Beyond
suggesting that Bartonella infection itself could contribute to
progressive neuropsychiatric disorders like Schizophrenia, it raises the
question of how often infection may be involved with psychiatric disorders
“Researchers are starting to look at things like infection’s role in
Alzheimer’s disease, for example. Beyond this one case, there’s a lot of
movement in trying to understand the potential role of viral and bacterial
infections in these medically complex diseases. This case gives us proof that
there can be a connection, and offers an opportunity for future
“McGraw is allergic to the meat of mammals and everything else that comes from them: dairy products, wool and fiber, gelatin from their hooves, char from their bones. This syndrome affects some thousands of people in the USA and an uncertain but likely larger number worldwide, and after a decade of research, scientists have begun to understand what causes it. It is created by the bite of a tick, picked up on a hike or brushed against in a garden, or hitchhiking on the fur of a pet that was roaming outside.”
They share that Lyme “can swim through thicker, more viscous fluids” than syphilis, making it more insidious.
“Syphilis and Lyme disease are better at penetrating our bodies than almost any other organisms. Spirochetes cross barriers that are impenetrable to almost anything else, including basement membranes and the linings of organs like intestines called endothelium that function to keep the kajillions of bacteria in your gut out of the rest of your body. In humans, syphilis and Lyme disease bacteria easily penetrate the normally sacrosanct blood-brain barrier to infect the central nervous system. Syphilis [and Lyme] can invade the placenta and infect an unborn child.
This extraordinary ability is reflected in the symptoms of these brutal diseases.”
“Other prominent researchers who have submitted erroneous disclosures include Dr. Robert J. Alpern, the Dean of the Yale School of Medicine, who failed to disclose in a 2017 journal article about an experimental treatment developed by Tricida that he served on that company’s board of directors and owned its stock. Tricida, which is developing therapies for Chronic Kidney Disease, had financed the clinical trial that was the subject of the article.
Studies have found that industry-sponsored research tends to be more positive than research financed by other sources. And that in turn can sway which treatments become available to patients.
“They really are falsifying the information that others rely on to assess that research,” he said. “Money is a very powerful influencer, and people’s opinions become subtly biased by that financial relationship.”
Mom shares story in hopes it will help others get diagnosed early “before they end up in a wheelchair like she is now.” After two miscarriages, Mom gives birth to “miracle” baby, Paige, who was born with multiple serious health problems.
“At 5 weeks, Paige had surgery on her stomach, which didn’t open into her intestines, causing frequent vomiting.
At 9 months, she was sent to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis and doctors discovered that for some inexplicable reason she had membranes obstructing her ability to absorb food and fluids. She also was born with an enlarged muscle at the top of her heart, as well as a hole in her heart. Her leg bones also twist inward, causing many trips and falls for the toddler.
“Doctors couldn’t explain this stuff,” said Fadling.
Paige also was diagnosed with failure to thrive. She began suffering from uncontrollable muscle ticks and joint pain, just like her mother. The little girl’s joints would become so hot and painful that her parents would find her leaning up against the glass patio door to cool them down.
By last Thanksgiving, months after Fadling was diagnosed with late stage Lyme disease, she realized her daughter was suffering from the disease, too. It was devastating.
“I fought really hard to get her here,” Fadling said, sobbing. “You fight to bring your child into this world and you think everything will be OK if I can just get her here. I was so naive. I had no idea. I would do anything for her.”