The genus Bartonella comprises two human-specific pathogens and a growing number of zoonotic or animal-specific species. Domesticated as well as wild mammals can serve as reservoir hosts for the zoonotic agents and transmission to humans may occur by blood sucking arthropods or by direct blood to blood contact. Humans may come into intimate contact with free-ranging mammals during hunting, especially during evisceration with bare hands, when accidental blood to blood contact frequently occurs. The objective of this work was to determine the presence and the polymorphism of Bartonella strains in wild roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) as the most widely spread game in Western Europe. We report the isolation of four Bartonella strains from the blood of five roe deer. These strains carry polar flagella similar to Bartonella bacilliformis and Bartonella clarridgeiae. Based on their phenotypic and genotypic characteristics, three of the four roe deer isolates were different and they were all distinct from previously described Bartonella species. They can be distinguished from each other and from other Bartonella species by their protein profile, ERIC-PCR pattern, 16S rRNA and citrate synthase (gitA) gene sequences, as well as by whole DNA-DNA hybridization. In spite of their considerable heterogeneity, all four strains fulfil the criteria for belonging to a single new species. The name Bartonella schoenbuchii is proposed for this new species. The type strain R1T of Bartonella schoenbuchii has been deposited in the National Collection of Type Cultures as NCTC 13165T and the Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen as DSM 13525T.


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