Cat Scratch Fever Symptoms

Cat scratch fever or cat scratch disease is an infection caused by the bacterium Bartonella henselae. At any given point in time, almost half the cat population carries the disease, although it does not make them ill and cannot be readily detected. For the most part, it is self-limiting and will run its course with no treatment, except in people with compromised immune systems.

  1. Considerations

    • People can contract cat scratch fever by being bitten or scratched by a cat that carries the bacteria, but also if they pet a cat that has the bacteria on its fur after it has washed itself. The bacteria is contained in the cat's saliva.

    Symptoms

    • Cat scratch fever presents as a sore that develops after a cat scratch or bite that doesn't heal normally, a red area around a cat sore that continues to get bigger more than two days after the scratch or bite, fever that lasts after a scratch or bite, painful and swollen lymph nodes more than two weeks after a bite, bone and joint pain, abdominal pain, or excessive tiredness for more than two weeks after a scratch or bite.

    Caution

    • Many people who develop the disease don't remember being bitten or scratched by a cat. The sore may not develop for three to ten days after exposure to the cat.

    Effects

    • Lymph nodes that become swollen or sore usually are in proximity to the location of the scratch or bite. A bite on your leg will not cause the lymph node in your armpit to swell. The affected lymph node may swell to more than an inch in size.

    Prevention

    • Scientists think that cats get the bacteria from fleas. Getting rid of fleas, if your cat has them, could help prevent the disease. Don't tease cats or do anything that would provoke them to bite or scratch you.

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