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'Cat Scratch Disease '

What is cat scratch disease?

Cat scratch disease (CSD) is a bacterial disease caused by Bartonella henselae. Most people with CSD have been bitten or scratched by a cat and developed a mild infection at the point of injury. Lymph nodes, especially those around the head, neck, and upper limbs, become swollen. Additionally, a person with CSD may experience fever, headache, fatigue, and a poor appetite. Rare complications of B. henselae infection are bacillary angiomatosis and Parinaud's oculolandular syndrome.

Can my cat transmit Bartonella henselae to me?

Sometimes, yes, cats can spread B. henselae to people. Most people get CSD from cat bites and scratches. Kittens are more likely to be infected and to pass the bacterium to people. About 40% of cats carry B. henselae at some time in their lives. Cats that carry B. henselae do not show any signs of illness; therefore, you cannot tell which cats can spread the disease to you. People with immunocompromised conditions, such as those undergoing immunosuppressive treatments for cancer, organ transplant patients, and people with HIV/AIDS, are more likely than others to have complications of CSD. Although B. henselae has been found in fleas, so far there is no evidence that a bite from an infected flea can give you CSD.

How can I reduce my risk of getting cat scratch disease from my cat?

  • Avoid "rough play" with cats, especially kittens. This includes any activity that may lead to cat scratches and bites.
  • Wash cat bites and scratches immediately and thoroughly with running water and soap.
  • Do not allow cats to lick open wounds that you may have.
  • If you develop an infection (with pus and pronounced swelling) where you were scratched or bitten by a cat or develop symptoms, including fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue, contact your physician.

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