Cat Scratch Fever Prevention Tips

Cat scratch fever, also known as Cat Scratch Disease, is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Bartonella henselae found in cats. Cats that suffer from the Bartonella bacteria have a disease known as Feline Bartonellosis. These bacteria can be transmitted from cats to humans. The infection is manifested in human beings 2 to 3 weeks after a cat bite or scratch. Cat scratch fever is treatable and in rare cases of severity, antibiotic treatment is prescribed.

Symptoms of Cat Scratch Disease in Humans

  • Lymph node swelling
  • Slight fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Bump (papule pustule) at the site of injury
  • Other Associated Symptoms
  • Abdominal pain
  • Discomfort (malaise)
  • Convulsions
  • Loss of appetite

Causes of Cat Scratch Disease

  • Cats carry the bacteria in their blood and transmit it through bites or scratches.
  • Infected cat saliva that comes in contact with broken skin.
  • Emerging studies show us evidence that cat scratch disease can be transmitted by fleas and ticks through flea feces that contain Bartonella.

Diagnosis of Cat Scratch Disease

The symptoms of Lyme disease and cat scratch disease are similar and sometimes cat scratch fever is overlooked during diagnosis and testing. The Bartonella henselae IFA test is used to detect infection caused by the bacteria. A physical examination also helps to diagnose cat scratch fever.

Prevention and Treatment of Cat Scratch Disease

Follow these simple rules to prevent exposure to the infection:

  • Wash hands thoroughly after playing with cats.
  • Avoid playing roughly with cats.
  • Immediately wash any cat bites or scratches with soap and water.
  • Control flea infestation.
  • Do not allow cat saliva to touch any open wounds or bruises.
  • Wash off any cat saliva before you consume food or touch your eyes.

If your body exhibits signs and symptoms of cat scratch fever, contact your physician. Although cat scratch disease is not serious, some patients suffer from complications and are prescribed medication. Antibiotics found useful in curing cat scratch fever include Azithromycin, Ciprofloxacin and certain Tetracycline antibiotics. Kittens are more likely to carry the infection than adult cats. However, it is difficult to tell which cats carry the bacteria as they show no signs of illness.

If your cat shows signs of Feline Bartonellosis it requires treatment too.

Symptoms of Feline Bartonellosis

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Swelling of oral and digestive systems that causes gingivitis and mouth ulcers
  • Diarrhea
  • Chronic vomiting
  • Red or swollen skin with pustules
  • Respiratory disease like sinusitis and rhinitis
  • Eye infections and swollen eyes

A simple blood test can detect Feline Bartonellosis in your cat. Your vet can treat your cat and follow up with a blood test to check if the infection is cured. If your cat is not completely treated with azithromycin therapy your vet might try other antibiotics to control and cure the disease. Consider testing other cats in your home to prevent transmission between pets. Cats usually obtain the infection from flea or ticks that carry the bacteria so remember to control flea infestation to prevent re-infection.

People with suppressed immune systems have a higher risk of contracting cat scratch fever and require antibiotics as treatment. Children with normal immune systems are likely to recover without medication. It's important to follow preventive measures and treat infected pets to improve their overall health.