The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Cat Scratch Disease - Do You Know What It Is?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cat Scratch Disease - Do You Know What It Is?

Cat scratch disease (CSD) is a bacterial infection caused by the bartonella henselae bacterium. The bacteria can be carried in a cat's saliva and is usually contracted by being bitten or scratched by a cat. The cats probably get it from fleas, but this has not been established. CSD is an opportunistic infection that is usually not serious for patients with healthy immune systems.

About 40% of cats carry the bacteria in their saliva at some point in their lives, cats that carry Bartonella henselae do not themselves show any signs of illness. Most people contract the disease after being scratched or bitten by a cat.

Since these bacteria may also be present on cat fur, it is possible to contract the disease from petting a cat and then rubbing your eyes. Kittens are more likely than older cats to carry the bacteria and to transmit the infection to humans. Sometimes people who get cat scratch disease do not recall ever being scratched or bitten by a cat.

A person who has had contact with an infected cat may show common symptoms, including:
  • Bump (papule) or blister (pustule) at site of injury (usually the first sign)
  • Fatigue
  • Fever (in some patients)
  • Headache
  • Lymph node swelling (lymphadenopathy) near the site of the scratch or bite
  • Overall discomfort (malaise)
  • Less common symptoms may include:
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Weight loss


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