Bartonella are bacteria that infect humans and other animals, living inside the lining of the blood vessels. Bartonella was discovered in 1905 by Alberto Barton in Peru when he noticed there was an outbreak of an unknown sickness among foreign workers that worked for the railway. Bartonella was carried by fleas and lice and was known as the “cat scratch fever”. It was proven that people could still develop the disease with tick bites but with no exposure to cats. Many patients from the railway were transferred to Guadalupe Hospital, these fourteen were studied by Barton. Barton found that theses patients bacillus within their red blood cells, which would change to a cocci shape in the patient survived the severe acute phase. Barton found that if the patients developed lesions the bacteria would disappear from the peripheral blood system.
Alberto Barton was born inLima Peru in 1870 and was the fourth of nine brothers. His father was an Uruguayan chemist who along with his wife traveled to Peru in 1874 exposing Alberto to Peru for the first time. Alberto Barton received a grant for training in tropical diseases and bacteriology in Edinburgh and at the London School of Tropical Medicine. He returned to Peru and began working at the Guadalupe Hospital. This is when he began his first research activities.