Cat Scratch Fever Disease
Cat scratch fever disease is a serious bacterial infection transmitted
from cats to humans. Cat scratch fever is not spread only by the cat's claws, but also by cat bites. Some
surveys have shown that up to 41 per cent of pet cats, although suffering no symptoms themselves, carry B
henselae in their bloodstream.
The scratch or bite may be minor, but later a septic spot forms at the site, and within a week
or two the lymphatic glands swell. The swollen glands are at first hard, and later may become soft if they fill
with pus. This may lead to a chronic discharging gland. Patients with cat-scratch fever may also have flu-like
symptoms -a temperature, headache -and suffer from general malaise.
In occasional cases of cat scratch fever the patient may show neurological symptoms -it is these
people who have a poor prognosis. Cat scratch fever usually, but not invariably, responds to such antibiotics as
Ciproxin and rifampicin, but if there are neurological symptoms, intravenous antibiotic therapy is needed.
Cat scratch fever is usually a mild disease. Three weeks after a patient is bitten or scratched
by a cat the lymphatic glands or more often a gland in the groin, armpit or neck, become inflamed. This may later
break down and form an abscess. The gland, if it doesn't heal spontaneously, can be healed surgically but there is
no other specific treatment. Occasionally the owner's eye can be affected which can cause an unpleasant
complication, or there may be a generalized skin rash or lung involvement. Encephalitis is rare. The disease can
even be life-threatening to people with AIDS, or cancer victims in chemotherapy.
Little is known about cat scratch fever disease or where the bacterium originates prior to
lodging in a cats' saliva. Another mystery is that not all people who contract cat scratch disease have been
scratched or bitten by a cat.
A physician must diagnose cat scratch fever disease. After reviewing the symptoms, some doctors
do a skin test by injecting some sterilized cat scratch fever lesion material into the patient's skin to see if a
local reaction occurs. However, serious questions have arisen recently, regarding the accuracy of skin tests. New
tests have not been perfected yet. In many cases no specific treatment is required because the condition is