Cat scratch fever, also called cat scratch disease (CSD) or lymphoreticulosis, is a bacterial infection. The disease gets its name because people contract it from cats infected with Bartonella henselae bacteria.
A person can get affected by cat scratch fever from a bite or scratch from an infected cat. The disease can also occur if saliva from an infected cat gets into an open wound or touches eyes. Occasionally, a person might get the disease from a flea or a tick carrying the bacterium. The germ spreads to people when infected cats bite or scratch a person hard enough to break their skin. The germ can also spread when infected cats lick at wounds or scabs that you may have. The infectious bacteria mostly infects the skin, such as in the case of cellulitis. Also Read: Cellulitis: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
CSD can cause people to have serious complications. It can affect the brain, eyes, heart, or other vital internal organs. These rare complications, which may require intensive treatment, are more likely to occur in children 5-14 years of age and people with weakened immune systems. Hence, it is advised to seek professional medical care as soon as symptoms of cat scratch disease are recognized in a person.
The typical signs of cat scratch fever consist of:
- A Bump Or Blister At The Bite Or Scratch Site
- Swollen Lymph Nodes Near The Bite Or Scratch Site
- Body Aches
In certain cases, cat scratch fever may also give rise to the following symptoms:
Diagnosis And Treatment
Cat scratch disease can usually be determined by an external examination. The doctor will examine the bite or scratch and enquire about any other symptoms. He or she will check the lymph nodes for swelling or tenderness. Also Read: Swollen Lymph Nodes Could Be A Sign Of Cancer
If a diagnosis is not clear, then a blood test is also carried out, to look for the bacterial strain of Bartonella henselae infection.
Once the diagnosis of cat scratch disease is confirmed, the treatment is initiated. In minor cases, only topical creams are given to the patient, to help heal the rashes and discomfort on the skin. However, if symptoms are more severe, then prescription antibiotics are given, to be followed in a stringent dosage to lower infection and inflammation in the lymph node and aid in complete recovery of the patient.
Cat scratch disease can be prevented by a few simple hygiene practices:
- Wash hands carefully after handling your cat.
- Play gently with your cat so they don’t scratch or bite you.
- Don’t let your cat lick you, especially around the mouth, nose, eyes, or open wounds.
- Control fleas to decrease the chance that your cat will contract the bacteria.
- Don’t tease or provoke a cat.
- Avoid petting stray cats.