An outbreak of acute bartonellosis (Oroya fever) in the Urubamba region of Peru, 1998.

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  • 1 Viral and Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.

During May 1998, we conducted a case-control study of 357 participants from 60 households during an outbreak of acute bartonellosis in the Urubamba Valley, Peru, a region not previously considered endemic for this disease. Blood and insect specimens were collected and environmental assessments were done. Case-patients (n = 22) were defined by fever, anemia, and intra-erythrocytic coccobacilli seen in thin smears. Most case-patients were children (median age = 6.5 years). Case-patients more frequently reported sand fly bites than individuals of neighboring households (odds ratio [OR] = 5.8, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.2-39.2), or members from randomly selected households > or = 5 km away (OR = 8.5, 95% CI = 1.7-57.9). Bartonella bacilliformis isolated from blood was confirmed by nucleotide sequencing (citrate synthase [g/tA], 338 basepairs). Using bacterial isolation (n = 141) as the standard, sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value of thin smears were 36%, 96%, and 44%, respectively. Patients with clinical syndromes compatible with bartonellosis should be treated with appropriate antibiotics regardless of thin-smear results.