Cat Scratch Fever

Cat Scratch Fever Disease

cat scrtach fever diseaseCat 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 self-limiting.