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Journal Articles PLoS ONE Year : 2020

Five millennia of Bartonella quintana bacteraemia

Davide Tanasi
  • Function : Author
Olivier Dutour
Gérard Aboudharam


During the two World Wars, Bartonella quintana was responsible for trench fever and is now recognised as an agent of re-emerging infection. Many reports have indicated widespread B. quintana exposure since the 1990s. In order to evaluate its prevalence in ancient populations, we used real-time PCR to detect B. quintana DNA in 400 teeth collected from 145 individuals dating from the 1st to 19th centuries in nine archaeological sites, with the presence of negative controls. Fisher’s exact test was used to compare the prevalence of B. quintana in civil and military populations. B. quintana DNA was confirmed in a total of 28/145 (19.3%) individuals, comprising 78 citizens and 67 soldiers, 20.1% and 17.9% of which were positive for B. quintana bacteraemia, respectively. This study analysed previous studies on these ancient samples and showed that the presence of B. quintana infection followed the course of time in human history; a total of 14/15 sites from five European countries had a positive prevalence. The positive rate in soldiers was higher than those of civilians, with 20% and 18.8%, respectively, in the 18th and 19th centuries, but the difference in frequency was not significant. These results confirmed the role of dental pulp in diagnosing B. quintana bacteraemia in ancient populations and showed the incidence of B. quintana in both civilians and soldiers.

Dates and versions

hal-03150805 , version 1 (24-02-2021)



Ba-Hoang-Anh Mai, Rémi Barbieri, Dominique Castex, Richard Jonvel, Davide Tanasi, et al.. Five millennia of Bartonella quintana bacteraemia. PLoS ONE, 2020, 15 (11), pp.e0239526. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0239526⟩. ⟨hal-03150805⟩
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