Chronic Vasculitis and Polyneuropathy due to Infection with Bartonella henselae
Bartonella henselae, the causative agent of cat scratch disease and bacillary angiomatosis, is associated with an expanding spectrum of diseases. Here, we report on a 40-year-old patient suffering from chronic recurrent painful ulcers of the toes, distal axonal sensomotor polyneuropathy and Raynaud's phenomenon. Biopsy of the sural nerve demonstrated an axonal neuropathy with a neurogenic muscular atrophy. Treatment with high dose corticosteroids had no beneficial effect. A biopsy taken from a recurring ulcer 7 years after the beginning of the disease revealed superficial ulcerated hyperkeratosis with subepithelial proliferation of small vessels compatible with a diagnosis of verruca peruana, however, without detection of microorganism. Serologic analysis revealed an elevated IFT titer of 1:1,024 against B. henselae. Treatment with erythromycin induced healing of the ulcer, remission of the vasculitis and the polyneuropathy, and a decline of the IFT titer. This case illustrates that B. henselae infection should be considered in patients with vasculitis and polyneuropathic syndromes.