When to consult a doctor if you have been bitten or scratched by a cat?

If you (or your loved one) have been scratched or bitten by a cat, you may be infected by a bacteria that caused cat-scratch disease or otherwise known as cat-scratch fever.

The first symptom of the disease is the appearance of bump or blister after 3 to 10 days on the punctured spots. It may take awhile for the bump or blister to completely heal. After a further 1 to 7 weeks, the lymph node closest to the punctured spots may swell to an inch or more. The swollen node can be painful and fluid filled. At this point, you are likely to have mild fever. The swollen lymph node may take a few months to fully subside.

For most people, the disease does not cause any more problem than the symptoms described above, you may not even aware of any noticeable change in yourself. However, it can lead to other complications for children under the age of 5, pregnant women, or HIV and cancer patients and individuals with compromised immune system.

It is prudent to consult your family doctor if you are aware of any of the following problems:

• A cat bite or scratch punctured point that does not appear to progressively healing.
• Rash or reddish area surrounding the punctured points that is still enlarging after 2 days.
• Fever higher than 102 F or low grade fever that lasts for several days.
• Painful and unusually large swollen lymph nodes
• Joint or bone pain
• Abdominal pain
• Unusual lengthy and severeness of tiredness

In most cases, cat-scratch disease do not need treatment. The use of antibiotics on persistent swollen and painful lymph nodes is debated.