Lyme Disease vs Cat-Scratch Disease Comparison

Lyme disease has been getting lots of publicity lately as a few high profile celebrities including Ashley Olsen (of the famous Olsen Twins) and Avril Lavigne have been diagnosed with Lyme disease that have developed into further complications, requiring long-term treatments.

As both Lyme disease and cat-scratch disease patients share similar flu-like symptoms to a certain extent, one may wonder are they related. The following is a simple table for general public quick comparison.

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Cat-Scratch Disease

Lyme Disease

Primarily Cause of Transfer:

Scratches/bites or saliva contact

from a cat infected by the cat flea

Bite by deer ticks (black legged Ticks)

Bacterium Organism:

Borrelia Burgdorferi

Bartonella henselae

Characteristic Symptoms:

Blister and bumps at bite points

A ring-like red skin rash around bite point.

Rash may appear in other parts of body at later stage

Similar Symptoms:

Fever, fatigue, headache,

swollen lymph nodes,

malaise, muscle or joint pain

Fever, fatigue, headache,

malaise, muscle or joint pain, swollen lymph nodes

Common Antibiotics use for treatments:

Azithromycin, doxycycline,

gentamicin, rifampicin, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole

Doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil

Symptoms appearing:

1-3 weeks after bite/scratch/saliva contacts

3-30 days after bite

Healing timeframe:

Mostly less than 1 month

Mostly less than 1 month

Needs of Medication:

Self-healing in most cases.

Younger children or persons with weak immune system may require medication

Early treatment recommended.

Oral antibiotic in most cases. Intravenous antibiotics may be required for later stage

Severeness of symptoms:

Mild in most cases

Mild in most cases

When need medical consultation:

Wound not healing/spreading, swollen lymph nodes

Rash appearance

Most affected population:

Children and immune system compromised adults

Anyone who spend a lot of time outdoor in endemic areas

Long-term immunity after recovery

Yes, in most cases

No, reinfection is possible if bitten by deer tick

Areas disease more commonly found:

Throughout the United States, but infection rate rises in autumn and early winter

North central states, mostly in Wisconsin and Minnesota, West Coast, particularly northern California.

Human-to-human Transmission



Some Possible Complications:

Arthritis, neurological problems, cardiovascular problems,

optic nerves inflammation

Arthritis, neurological problems, cardiovascular problems

Most Effective Prevention Measures:

Avoid scratches/bites/saliva of cat;

Avoid touching stray cats;

Keep house cat’s claws short;

Wash with soap after playing with cat

Wear light-color limp-covering clothing;

Apply insect repellent;

Remove ticks promptly, Wash with soap if bite occurred;

Control tick population