Cat scratch fever is a bacterial infection caused by Bartonella henselae bacteria. An individual can acquire the infection from a scratch or bite from an infected cat. It can also be transmitted if the saliva from an infected cat enters an open wound or comes in contact with the white part of the eyes.
Who are at risk for cat scratch fever?
Any individual who keeps a cat as a pet or intermingles with the animal is at hazard for acquiring cat scratch fever. An individual is at higher danger of becoming severely sick from the disease if he/she has a weakened immune system.
What are the indications?
Cats harbor the bacteria by they do not become sick, thus you cannot be sure that they are carriers. It is believed that cats acquire the bacteria from infected fleas but there is no proof that humans can contract the bacteria directly from the fleas. Most cats are known to carry the bacteria at some point in their lives usually when they were kittens.
A veterinarian can test the cat to check if it is carrying the bacteria, but cats tend to carry the bacteria for a brief period, thus treatment is not usually needed.
The usual indications of cat scratch fever include the following:
- A blister or lump at the bite or scratch site
- Low-grade fever
- Swollen lymph nodes close to the scratch or bite site
Some of the uncommon symptoms include weight loss, appetite loss and sore throat.
Cat scratch fever is not considered serious and does not require treatment. As for serious cases, antibiotics are used as part of the treatment especially those who have a weakened immune system from conditions such as HIV or AIDS.
The disease can be prevented by avoiding exposure or interaction with cats. If an individual has a cat, he/she can minimize the risk for acquiring cat scratch fever by evading rough play that increases the likelihood of being bitten or scratched.
It is also vital to wash hands thoroughly after playing with a cat to prevent the disease. The cat must be kept indoors and administer an anti-flea medication to minimize the risk of the cat for acquiring the causative bacteria.