Cat scratch disease, which can also be called cat scratch fever, is a bacterial condition that affects humans. It is caused by the Bartonella henselae bacteria that cats may have. This bacteria is very common, and like the disease name suggests, it is possible to get cat scratch fever when an infected cat scratches or bites you. But it is not the only way. It might be enough to get the disease if the cat’s saliva gets in contact with any “open door” in your system: your eyes, mouth or nose, or even if it gets into the body through an open wound, for example, if the cat licks you.
Some specialists warn to the fact that the bacteria may also be present on cat’s fur. In this situation, you may be infected if you get in contact with the bacteria through your hands (while petting the animal) and then you take the bacteria inside your body (by touching on your eyes, for example).
What is Cat Scratch Disease?
Many cats are carriers from the Bartonella henselae bacteria without developing any disease or problem. It is even more common that little kittens carry the bacteria.
Cats get infected in a similar way they infect humans: it usually happens when they get bitten by fleas. It might also happen when they are wounded and their wounds get in contact with fleas’ excrements. When a cat is already infected, it might pass the disease to other cats when they fight because there is blood contact.
But how can you know if it’s time to seek medical help? It is a good idea to know something about the scratch fever disease, as well as the ways you can contract it and what you will possibly feel if you are infected.
SYMPTOMS ON HUMANS:
In fact, the symptoms are very common and can be caused by other diseases. But here is the list of most common signs that you should observe:
- You might find a bump (or papule) in the place where the cat scratched you. It is also possible that the scratch gives place to a pustule.
- You might have lymphadenopathy (it means lymph node swelling) next to the site where the cat scratched or bitten you.
The previous symptoms are probably those you can easier link to the cat scratch, because they show where the injury occurred. The other symptoms are less specific. Here are they:
- You may feel more tired than usual. Fatigue is a possible sign you are infected with cat scratch disease. You can also feel uncomfortable. It is possible that you feel headache.
- Pay attention if you have fever after an episode of cat scratch. Fever is a general sign that indicates that your body is not feeling very good, but it can be related to this disease.
Generally, cats which are carriers from the bacteria Bartonella henselae live without showing any sign of illness. So, it is very hard for people to tell their cat is sick. If you take your cat to the Veterinarian, it would be possible to detect some inflammation, because although this disease is silent, the cat can be very sick. Your cat can also be submitted to tests to find out if it is carrying the bacteria.
Since the symptoms of Cat Scratch Disease are not specific, only a physician can definitely know if you are infected. So, this illness is hard to diagnose. Swollen lymph nodes use to be the most specific sign of this disease. The physician may perform an examination and detect that your spleen is enlarged. This is also a sign of Cat Scratch Disease. Additionally, blood tests can show the presence of the bacteria on your system.
Is Cat Scratch Fever a serious condition? Generally, people who are healthy don’t have serious problems with this disease, which usually disappears without treatment or using antibiotics. It may be different if you have any health problem related to the immune system that might lower your body ability to fight diseases and infections. In this case, Cat Scratch Disease is a problem that requires more attention, because your immune system is weakened or suppressed and it might not work correctly, allowing your body to develop serious problems.
As we have seen, although it is rare, Cat Scratch Disease can cause more serious sicknesses on several internal organs, on the brain and in the eyes. Children and people who have suppressed immune systems are at increased risk.
PREVENT THE CAT SCRATCH DISEASE
Most of us don’t know if our cats are carriers of the Bartonella henselae bacteria. So, it is very important to take care of our pets and to take care of our own health. You don’t have to avoid contact with cats. In order to keep the Cat Scratch Disease away from you, you can follow some simple habits:
- Try to play with your pet in a calm way, which will reduce scratches and bites. If your cat doesn’t want to play, leave it alone resting or sleeping, don’t force it to play with you.
- Never forget to keep a good hygiene routine. As soon as the play ends, wash your hands before you do anything else.
- Talk to the Veterinarian in order to provide to your cat anti-flea medication. This will help to avoid the Bartonella henselae Also important: try to keep your cat indoors. If you do it you will be avoiding that fleas can bite your cat and you will also prevent that your cat fight with other cats which can be infected.
As we have seen, the most efficient weapon to fight the Cat Scratch Disease is to be well informed and to have some precautions. If we do it, we can live with our cats with less worries and enjoy a happier life.