Ed Breitschwerdt Profile


Ed Breitschwerdt

Ed Breitschwerdt, DVM, DACVIM

The Melanie S. Steele Distinguished Professorship in Medicine Professor of Internal Medicine


Ed Breitschwerdt is one of the world’s leading experts on bartonellosis, a group of global zoonotic diseases caused by Bartonella bacteria.

His work on Bartonella threads back to 1982, when he joined NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) as an internist, specializing in companion animal internal medicine. After clinically encountering a plethora of unusual infectious diseases, he began investigating vector-borne infectious diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a prevalent, potentially fatal disease of dogs and humans in North Carolina. To study this highly virulent bacterial pathogen, he established a biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory at CVM, and also started working with David Walker, a leading expert on spotted fever, and Willy Burgdorfer, a Swiss medical entomologist who discovered the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease.

Since 1992, when he and his PhD student began work on Bartonella in cats, Breitschwerdt’s research has expanded to dogs, marine mammals, horses and humans. Despite initial beliefs that Bartonella infections were rare and geographically restricted, Breitschwerdt, his collaborators and other scientists worldwide have now identified more than 40 Bartonella species. Using serological and molecular diagnostic modalities developed at NC State, his research team continues to assist with animal and human bartonellosis case studies worldwide.

Today, in addition to the multi-user BSL-3 Laboratory within the Comparative Medicine Institute at CVM, Breitschwerdt directs the Intracellular Pathogens Research Laboratory, and co-directs the Vector-Borne Disease Diagnostics Laboratory with Adam Birkenheuer and Barbara Qurollo. He also co-founded Galaxy Diagnostics, a CLIA certified laboratory that uses NC State technology to diagnose Bartonella infections in animals and human patients. In conjunction with Sushama Sontakke, he holds a US patent for enrichment culture media that Ricardo Maggi has optimized for the diagnosis of pathogens such as Bartonella, which are notoriously difficult to grow using conventional microbiological techniques.

With more than 25 years of experience in Bartonella research, Breitschwerdt has become a global contact for veterinary and human medical clinicians. He and his team continue to test animal and human samples from around the world, and provide diagnostic consultations on a daily basis. Together, their ultimate research goal is further improvements in diagnostic testing modalities for Bartonella infections, and development of a vaccine to prevent transmission of Bartonella spp. among vectors, animals and humans worldwide.


Global Health Research Fields

  • Vector-borne infectious diseases

Main Areas of Expertise

  • Bartonella bacteria
  • Biosafety level-3 pathogens
  • Companion animal veterinary care
  • Molecular diagnostics
  • Serological diagnostics

Global Health Research Interests

  • Improving the diagnosis of Bartonella infections through molecular and serological testing
  • Establishing preventative strategies to inhibit Bartonella transmission throughout human and animal populations
  • Examining the role of Bartonella in neuropsychiatric diseases in humans
  • Examining the role of Bartonella in proliferative diseases in dogs

Ongoing Projects

  • Prevalence of Bartonella spp. infection in dogs with cardiac and splenic hemangiosarcomas within and between geographic locations 
  • Purification and identificiation of Bartonella spp. receptors 
  • Prevalence of Borrelia species and Bartonella species in ixodid and other tick species from North America

Network (collaborators)

  • Ambatovy Minerals S.A., Antananarivo | Madagascar
  • Anatomy, Physiology, and Pharmacology Academic Program, St. George’s University, Grenada West Indies
  • Department of Animal Health, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Ohio | United States
  • Department of Biology, Duke University, North Carolina | United States
  • Department of Population Health and Reproduction, University of California, Davis California | United States
  • Duke Lemur Center, Duke University, North Carolina | United States
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland | United States
  • Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis | West Indies
  • Translational Medicine Group PC, North Bethesda, Maryland | United States
  • Universidade Estadual de Londrina, Londrina | Brazil
  • Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba | Brazil
  • University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Campinas, Sao Paulo | Brazil 
  • Vet Clinic Ampandrianomby, Antananarivo | Madagascar
  • VetCare, Clinique Vétérinaire, Antananarivo | Madagascar
  • Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, California | United States

Selected Publications

Mozayeni BR, Maggi RG, Bradley JM, Breitschwerdt EB. Rheumatological presentation of Bartonella koehlerae and Bartonella henselae bacteremias: A case report. Medicine (Baltimore) 2018 Apr; 97: e0465 (Pubmed)

Drummond M, Lania B, Diniz PP, Gilioli R, Demolin D, Scorpio D, Breitschwerdt EB, Velho PE. Improvement of Bartonella henselae DNA detection in cat blood samples by combining molecular and culture methods. J Clin Microbiol 2018 Apr; 56: e01737-17 (Pubmed)

Liu J, Eberts M, Bewsey H, Thomas P. O’Connor TP, Chandrashekar R, Breitschwerdt EB. Sensitivity and specificity levels of two rapid assays for antibodies to Anaplasma spp. in dogs. J Vet Diagnost Invest 2018 Mar; 30: 290-293 (Pubmed)

Qurollo BA, Larsen PA, Rakotondrainibe JJ, Mahefarisoa K, Rajaonarivelo T, Razafindramanana J, Breitschwerdt EB, Junge RE, Williams CV. Molecular surveillance of novel tick-borne organisms in Madagascar’s lemurs. Ticks Tick Borne Dis 2018 Mar; 9: 672-677 (Pubmed)

Lashnits E, Correa M, Hegarty BC, Birkenheuer AJ, Breitschwerdt EB. Bartonella seroepidemiology in dogs from North America, 2008-2014. J Vet Intern Med 2018 Jan; 32: 222-231 (Pubmed)

Vieira TS, Qurollo BA, Mongruel AC, Vidotto O, Breitschwerdt EB, Vieira RF. Potentially same novel Ehrlichia species in horses in Nicaragua and Brazil. Emerging Infect Dis 2018; 5: 953 (Pubmed)

Jaffe DA, Chomel BB, Kasten RW, Breitschwerdt EB, Maggi RG, McLeish A, Zieger U. Bartonella henselae in small Indian mongooses (Herpestes auropunctatus) from Grenada, West Indies. Vet Microbiol 2018; 216: 119-122 (Pubmed)


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