Episode 366: Inside Bartonella – an interview with Professor Ed Breitschwerdt


In this episode, we are thrilled to be interviewing Professor Ed Breitschwerdt, a renowned expert in the field of Bartonella research, often a co-infection of Lyme disease. He is currently a professor of medicine and infectious disease at North Carolina State University and an adjunct professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center. He has written 186 research studies with the word "Bartonella" in the title.

Research Lab: His laboratory focuses on testing animals, especially companion animals like cats, dogs, and horses, for vector-transmitted infectious diseases, like Bartonella and Lyme disease. Through years of intensive research, Professor Breitschwerdt and his team have become the reference laboratory for these diseases in animals.

An Expert in the Field: Professor Breitschwerdt also directs North Carolina State University’s Intracellular Pathogens Research Laboratory in the Institute for Comparative Medicine, co-directs the Vector Borne Diseases Diagnostic Laboratory, and has co-supervised the Tick-transmitted Diagnostic Laboratory since 1984. He has also supervised a biosafety level P-3 research laboratory.

The Focus on Bartonella: Currently, there are about 15 to 16 known species of Bartonella causing diseases in humans. The most common disease caused by Bartonella is endocarditis, a life-threatening infection of the heart.

Bartonella and Schizoaffective Disorders: Professor Breitschwerdt has performed studies strongly suggesting a connection between Bartonella infections and psychosis, mood disorders, and Tourette’s syndrome. A study found that almost all schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder patients tested positive for Bartonella and had symptom relief once receiving proper treatment.

Bartonella’s Effect on the Microbiome and Immune System: Chronic infection with Bartonella can alter the normal microbiome of the intestinal tract, likely due to immunosuppression or the disruption of immune modulation. Different strains of Bartonella may also lead to different symptoms in the human body. Once Bartonella enters the host, it becomes predominantly intracellular, infecting many different types of cells.

Role of Galaxy Diagnostics in Bartonella Research: Galaxy Diagnostics, where Professor Breitschwerdt is the Chief Scientific Officer, has played a significant role in progressing Bartonella research and testing. This organization uses insect growth media and digital PCR for cultivating and identifying Bartonella in blood tests. Galaxy Diagnostics has become one of the leading Bartonella testing labs in the world.

Bartonella Transmission: Professor Breitschwerdt cited numerous studies he’s performed which suggest Bartonella can be transmitted sexually, through blood transfusions, congenitally from mother to child, or through a variety of vectors like ticks, cats, and bats to human beings.

The Importance of Animals in Understanding Bartonella: Studying the effects of Bartonella in animals can provide important insights into how it behaves in humans. In some instances, the same Bartonella species can cause different diseases in humans and animals, adding another layer of complexity to the research.

Closing Thoughts: Though there are still many questions surrounding Bartonella, researchers like Professor Breitschwerdt are working tirelessly to deepen our understanding.