Should you be concerned if your child is diagnosed with cat-scratch disease?

If your child’s doctor told you your child has contracted cat-scratch disease from a cat or kitten, you probably should heave a sigh of relief. Because among all the infectious diseases a young child can pick up, cat-scratch disease is probably one of the most benign infections. Young children under the age of five and those with compromised immune system such as HIV or cancer patients may need to take extra precautions. Otherwise, the general public usually can handle the infections in timely manner.

Cat-scratch disease (CSD), also known as cat-scratch fever is a bacterial infections transmitted by cat fleas to cats or kittens. In turns, when a cat inflicted a skin-breaking scratch or bite to a person, an entry is provided for the bacteria Bartonella henselae to infect a human. The disease can also spread through contact with the cat saliva or blood on unhealed wounds or mucous surfaces.
Most of the time, an CSD infected cat or kitten does not exhibit any sign of sickness. This is also true for some children.

The common symptoms of CSD is the appearance of blisters or bumps at the wound site 2 to 10 days after the injury occurred. Lymph nodes closest to the wound sites may become swollen and sore after 1 week to 7 weeks later. Low grade fever may accompanied the swollen nodes as well. At this point, the child may appear lethargic and lack of appetite. When swollen node occurs, it is always a good practice to consult a doctor. A doctor usually starts treating a CSD patient with symptomatic treatment for the pain and fever with over-the-counter ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Applying a warm compresses to the swollen lymph nodes can provide some relief to the child. Incision and drainage of the swollen lymph nodes although seems logical and tempting, it is not encouraged as it may lead to secondary infections. Antibiotics are not necessary but may be prescribed primarily to lessen the pain but does not shorten the recovery period.

CSD although wide spread, it is rather harmless and self-limiting. A child usually will recover fully soon with only symptomatic treatments. The disease can not spread from one person to another, so it is not necessary to stay away from child care, preschool, or school. The other plus point of the disease is that the child usually becomes immune to the disease in the future.

Please refer to the article “How to Prevent Your Child from Contracting Cat-Scratch Disease” for further information.