Misleading Positive Serology for Cat Scratch Disease Following Administration of Intravenous Immunoglobulin

Michal Yakubovsky, Yoav Golan, Alex Guri, Itzhak Levy, Daniel Glikman, Moshe Ephros, Michael Giladi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Cat scratch disease (CSD), caused by Bartonella henselae, usually presents as regional lym-phadenopathy/lymphadenitis, known as typical CSD or as atypical CSD, which includes, among others, neurological manifestations. Serology for anti–B. henselae IgG antibodies is the most com-monly used diagnostic tests for CSD. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) is given for an increasing number of medical conditions and may cause interference with serological testing. We report six patients with neurological manifestations and two patients with Kawasaki disease mimicking typical CSD, mistakenly diagnosed as CSD due to false-positive serology following IVIG therapy. Bar-tonella IgG serology was positive one to six days after IVIG administration and reverted to negative in seven of eight patients or significantly decreased (1 patient) ≤30 days later. In patients with CSD, IgG titers remained essentially unchanged 15–78 days after the positive serum sample. An addi-tional eight patients treated with IVIG for various conditions were evaluated prospectively. All were seronegative one day pre-IVIG infusion, five patients demonstrated an increase in the IgG titers one to three days after IVIG administration, one interpreted as positive and four as interme-diate, whereas three patients remained seronegative, suggesting that false seropositivity after IVIG therapy may not occur in all patients. Treatment with IVIG can result in false-positive serology for B. henselae. Increased awareness to the misleading impact of IVIG is warranted to avoid misinter-pretation. Repeat testing can distinguish between true and false serology. Preserving serum samples prior to IVIG administration is suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Article number177
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Bartonella henselae
  • Cat scratch disease
  • Enzyme immunoassay
  • False positive results
  • Intravenous immunoglobulin
  • Serology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Immunology and Allergy


Dive into the research topics of 'Misleading Positive Serology for Cat Scratch Disease Following Administration of Intravenous Immunoglobulin'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this