Cat Scratch Fever Symptoms

Published: 19th March 2010
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Owning a family or personal pet is a common joy for many people throughout the United States. Among the most common domesticated animals that people choose to adopt are cats. Cats are more low-maintenance than other types of common pets, and they can live either inside or outside the residence. Certain breeds of cats also offer up benefits such as maintaining pest and rodent control around the home.

Cat scratch disease, until just recently known as cats scratch fever, is one of the largest mysteries in the modern medical field.Known as a bacterial disease caused by bartonella henselae, which is an infection, this can be very discomforting infection to humans.

This disease presents flu-like symptoms. The most common symptoms include fever, chills, and lethargy, but they last for only a few days, much shorter than most flu's.

There is a more severe kind of that causes high fever, anorexia, weakness, and badly swollen lymph nodes, particularly in the armpits and groin area. Sometimes the lymph swelling gets so severe that the swelling spontaneously ruptures; at other times, doctors choose to surgically drain them to prevent the rupture and relieve the pain.

The bacteria Bartonella henselae is responsible for cat scratch fever in humans, mostly in young children, as they are the ones who have the most contact with kittens. Though the infection is not limited to children only. Adults can contract the infection which causes lymph nodes in the body to swell profusely. While the bacterium has limited stress on pet health, it can be fatal in immune compromised individuals and children.

Cat Scratch Fever Symptoms

After a few days of being scratched, licked, or bitten by a cat a small bump or blister will form called an inoculation lesion. Most people will mistake this for a bug bite. They will usually appear on the hands, arms, head, or scalp. These lesions are usually not painful.

Within a couple of weeks the scratch or one of the lymph nodes close to the area where the lesion is will begin to swell and become tender to the touch. If the lesion is on the arm then the lymph nodes in the elbow or the armpit will begin to swell.

You will not see any symptoms in the cats that have this disease, so if you own more than one cat, you don't know which one gave you the infection. If you have a disease that attacks your immunity, then your risk of getting this illness from your cat is increased.

Prevention Tips

There are a number of preventative steps that pet owners can take to minimize the risk of CSD in the home. These include:

Wash your hands after playing with your pet, even if you don't think you were scratched, bitten, or licked.

If your cat is not de-clawed, consider wearing a long sleeve shirt while playing to protect you from cuts and bite wounds.

If you do get a cut or bite, wash it thoroughly with soap and water and apply antibiotic ointment. Cover with a bandage until the wound is fully healed.

People who are more likely to develop cat scratch fever and suffer from the more severe symptoms include those who have depleted or deficient immune systems, such as those who are suffering from HIV/AIDS or who are undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment. In these victims, cat scratch disease may be fatal if it is left untreated.

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