What is Cat Scratch Disease?

You are likely aware of cat scratch disease or cat scratch fever, but you may not be aware of that this infection is caused by bacteria found in flea excrement! Humans may catch the disease if bitten or scratched by an infected cat. It is estimated 40% of the cat population in America is affected by this bacteria, although they rarely show any sign of illness.

What Are the Typical Symptoms of Cat Scratch Disease/Fever?
A person infected with cat scratch disease may notice small red bumps where they have been scratched or bitten. Swollen and painful lymph nodes near the skin-breaking point likely to occur next. Swollen lymph node may require a few months to fully recover. Other symptoms may include:

  • Low-grade fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Skin lesion
  • Joint and bodily pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

Symptoms typically clear up in a timely manner with nothing more than over-the-counter medication for symptomatic treatment if needed, but serious complications requiring extensive treatment do arise, affecting the heart, spleen, kidney, eye, skin, nerves, and joints. Young children with an underdeveloped immune system, pregnant women, and immunocompromised individuals, such as cancer or HIV patients are more at risk than the general population.

How Is Cat Scratch Disease Transmitted?
There are a few bacterial organisms, most commonly Bartonella henselae, that cause cat scratch disease. Bartonella henselae is commonly found in cat fleas. When the cat scratches or lick herself, the infected flea and the feces gets into her claws or mouth, infecting the cat. The infection is further spread when the cat scratches or bites a person or other cats. Kittens accounted to a higher rate of human infections if compare to adult cats, primarily they tend to scratch and bite more during play.

Which Cats Are Most Likely to Be Infected?
Cats living in humid, warm, flea-friendly climates are more likely to be infected by cat scratch disease. According to statistic collected by health institutions, about 40 percent of cat is infected as some point in their lives.

How Can I Tell If My Cat Is Infected?
Most cats who have the cat scratch disease appear healthy with no signs of any infection. At this point, there is no straightforward test for Bartonella henselae, diagnosis is usually carried out for clinically ill cats. If you are wondering whether your cat is infected, consult your veterinarian for best treatment options.

How Are Infected Cats Treated?
Cats infected with Bartonella are sometimes prescribed oral antibiotics, but it is not always effective. Likewise in infected human.

How To Avoid Getting Cat Scratch Disease?
Precautionary practices are best to reduce your chances of getting cat scratch disease. They are:

  • Keep cats indoors as much as possible to reduce contact to fleas and ticks.
  • Do not forcefully restrain, hug, or rough play with cats that could result in scratching and biting.
  • Trimmed your cat’s claws frequently or invest in one or two good cat scratching poles
  • If you get scratched or bitten by a cat, wash immediately with soap and running water.
  • Follow an effective flea control plan, diligently!
  • Do not let any cat lick open wounds, scabs, or cuts you may have.
  • Do not let your cat lick close to your eye.
  • If there is an immunocompromised individual in the household, seek medical consultation before getting a cat.