Carrion's disease

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Carrion's disease
Carrion's disease chronic phase - verruga peruana (Peruvian warts)
Specialty Infectious disease   Blue pencil.svg

Oroya fever or Carrion's disease is an infectious disease produced by Bartonella bacilliformis infection.

Bartonella bacilliformis is a proteobacterium, Gram negative aerobic, pleomorphic, flagellated, motile, coccobacillary, 2–3 μm long, 0.2–0.5 μm wide, and a facultative intracellular bacterium.


It is named after Daniel Alcides Carrión. [1]

Signs and symptoms

The clinical symptoms of bartonellosis are pleomorphic and some patients from endemic areas may be asymptomatic. The two classical clinical presentations are the acute phase and the chronic phase, corresponding to the two different host cell types invaded by the bacterium (red blood cells and endothelial cells). An individual can be affected by either or both phases. [2] [3]

Acute phase

It is also called the hematic phase. [2] The most common findings are fever (usually sustained, but with temperature no greater than 102 °F (39 °C)), pale appearance, malaise, painless liver enlargement, jaundice, enlarged lymph nodes, and enlarged spleen. This phase is characterized by severe hemolytic anemia and transient immunosuppression. The case fatality ratios of untreated patients exceeded 40% but reach around 90% when opportunistic infection with Salmonella spp. occurs. In a recent study, the attack rate was 13.8% (123 cases) and the case-fatality rate was 0.7%.

Hepatomegaly symptom

Hepatomegaly is the condition of having an enlarged liver. It is a non-specific medical sign having many causes, which can broadly be broken down into infection, hepatic tumours, or metabolic disorder. Often, hepatomegaly will present as an abdominal mass. Depending on the cause, it may sometimes present along with jaundice.

Jaundice medical condition with yellowish pigmentation of the skin or sclerae by bilirubin

Jaundice, also known as icterus, is a yellowish or greenish pigmentation of the skin and whites of the eyes due to high bilirubin levels. It is commonly associated with itchiness. The feces may be pale and the urine dark. Jaundice in babies occurs in over half in the first week following birth and does not pose a serious threat in most. If bilirubin levels in babies are very high for too long, a type of brain damage, known as kernicterus, may occur.

Lymphadenopathy disorder of lymph nodes

Lymphadenopathy or adenopathy is disease of the lymph nodes, in which they are abnormal in size, number, or consistency. Lymphadenopathy of an inflammatory type is lymphadenitis, producing swollen or enlarged lymph nodes. In clinical practice, the distinction between lymphadenopathy and lymphadenitis is rarely made and the words are usually treated as synonymous. Inflammation of the lymphatic vessels is known as lymphangitis. Infectious lymphadenitis affecting lymph nodes in the neck is often called scrofula.

Other symptoms include a headache, muscle aches, and general abdominal pain. [4] Some studies have suggested a link between Carrion's disease and heart murmurs due to the disease's impact on the circulatory system. In children, symptoms of anorexia, nausea, and vomiting have been investigated as possible symptoms of the disease. [2]

Headache pain in the head or neck

Headache is the symptom of pain anywhere in the region of the head or neck. It occurs in migraines, tension-type headaches, and cluster headaches. Frequent headaches can affect relationships and employment. There is also an increased risk of depression in those with severe headaches.

Myalgia, or muscle pain, is a symptom of many diseases and disorders. The most common causes are the overuse or over-stretching of a muscle or group of muscles. Myalgia without a traumatic history is often due to viral infections. Longer-term myalgias may be indicative of a metabolic myopathy, some nutritional deficiencies or chronic fatigue syndrome.

Most of the mortality of Carrion's disease occurs during the acute phase. Studies vary in their estimates of mortality. In one study, mortality has been estimated as low as just 1% in studies of hospitalized patients, to as high as 88% in untreated, unhospitalized patients. [2] In developed countries, where the disease rarely occurs, it is recommended to seek the advice of a specialist in infectious disease when diagnosed. [5] Mortality is often thought to be due to subsequent infections due to the weakened immune symptoms and opportunistic pathogen invasion, or consequences of malnutrition due to weight loss in children. [2] [6] In a study focusing on pediatric and gestational effects of the disease, mortality rates for pregnant women with the acute phase were estimated at 40% and rates of spontaneous abortion in another 40%. [2]

Chronic phase

It is also called the eruptive phase or tissue phase, in which the patients develop a cutaneous rash produced by a proliferation of endothelial cells and is known as "Peruvian warts" or "verruga peruana". Depending on the size and characteristics of the lesions, there are three types: miliary (1–4 mm), nodular or subdermic, and mular (>5mm). Miliary lesions are the most common. The lesions often ulcerate and bleed. [4]

The most common findings are bleeding of verrugas, fever, malaise, arthralgias (joint pain), anorexia, myalgias, pallor, lymphadenopathy, and liver and spleen enlargement.

On microscopic examination, the chronic phase and its rash are produced by angioblastic hyperplasia, or the increased rates and volume of cell growth in the tissues that form blood vessels. This results in a loss of contact between cells and a loss of normal functioning. [2] [7]

The chronic phase is the more common phase. Mortality during the chronic phase is very low. [2] [4]


Carrion's disease is caused by Bartonella bacilliformis . [4] [7] Recent investigations show that Candidatus Bartonella ancashi may cause verruga peruana, although it may not meet all of Koch's postulates. There has been no experimental reproduction of the Peruvian wart in animals and there is little research on the disease's natural spread or impact in native animals.


thin blood film Smear.jpg
thin blood film

Diagnosis during the acute phase can be made by obtaining a peripheral blood smear with Giemsa stain, Columbia blood agar cultures, immunoblot, indirect immunofluorescence, and PCR. Diagnosis during the chronic phase can be made using a Warthin-Starry stain of wart biopsy, PCR, and immunoblot.


Because Carrion's disease is often comorbid with Salmonella infections, chloramphenicol has historically been the treatment of choice. [5]

Fluoroquinolones (such as ciprofloxacin) or chloramphenicol in adults and chloramphenicol plus beta-lactams in children are the antibiotic regimens of choice during the acute phase of Carrion's disease. [5] Chloramphenicol-resistant B. bacilliformis has been observed. [2] [5]

During the eruptive phase, in which chloramphenicol is not useful, azithromycin, erythromycin, and ciprofloxacin have been used successfully for treatment. Rifampin or macrolides are also used to treat both adults and children. [2] [5]

Because of the high rates of comorbid infections and conditions, multiple treatments are often required. These have included the use of corticosteroids for respiratory distress, red blood cell transfusions for anemia, pericardiectomies for pericardial tamponades, and other standard treatments. [2] [8]

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Daniel Alcides Carrión Peruvian medical student

Daniel Alcides Carrión García was a Peruvian medical student after whom Carrion's disease is named.

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Accelerated phase chronic myelogenous leukemia is a phase of chronic myelogenous leukemia in which the disease is progressing. In this phase, 10 to 19 % of the cells in the blood and bone marrow are blast cells. In the accelerated phase, these leukemia cells grow quickly.

Alberto Barton, was a Peruvian microbiologist who discovered the etiologic agent of Carrion´s disease or Oroya fever. The bacteria was named: Bartonella bacilliformis, in his honor. It is the type species of the genus Bartonella, and family Bartonellaceae.

Cat-scratch disease Human disease

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Bartonella ancashensis is a bacterium from the genus of Bartonella which has been isolated from blood from patients who suffered from verruga peruana in Caraz in Peru.Bartonella ancashensis is a human pathogen which may cause verruga peruana.


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