Did you know that there is such thing as a cat scratch fever? Yes, you guess that right! It is a disease or an infection from Bartonella henselae bacteria that you can get from cats. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that around 12,000 patients with this disease, 500 of these are taken to the hospital.
Also called as cat-scratch disease, this bacteria can easily spread in your body when a cat licks an open wound. There is also a possibility that you can get the bacteria through cat bites and scratches. But apart from this basic information about cat scratch fever, what should you do when you have this disease? Find out here.
How You Get Infected
As previously mentioned, you can get the bacteria when the cat licks, bites or scratches you. But did you know that cats were able to get the harmful bacteria through flea dirt and flea bites? When the cat started scratching fleas, the bacteria is then passed on to their mouth and thus the cat becomes the carrier of the bacteria.
Another way the cat can get the bacteria is by fighting with another cat. Once the infected cat scratches its rival, there is a tendency that the bacteria is transferred.
This is why when you have an interaction with an infected cat, the higher risk of you getting this disorder. When the cat gets in contact with you, it will only take within four days before your skin is broken and the infection will start entering your body. During this time, the infected area can be red and swollen. It may appear round and sometimes even with raised lesions. The infected area may feel painful or warm as well.
Cat Scratch Fever Symptoms
Other than the red and swollen area in your body, you will feel other signs caused by cat scratch fever, including:
- Body aches
- Blister or bump
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Sore throat
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Joint pain
- Abdominal pain
Most symptoms appear weeks after you had an encounter with the infected cat. When any of those signs appear, immediately go to the doctor for a diagnosis. The doctor will then ask you to undergo a physical examination. During this procedure, the doctor will perform a PCR or polymerase chain reaction blood test. This examination can determine if the bacteria is present in your body.
Cat Scratch Fever Treatments
The good news is that this disorder is not that serious and can be easily treated with antibiotics. So if the doctor diagnoses you with this ailment, you can take these medications:
- trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra)
- ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
- tetracycline (Sumycin)
- rifampin (Rifadin)
You can take Azithromycin or Zithromax to cure your lymph nodes. You can take this for five days up to 2 weeks, depending on your condition.
Take note that you should only take the prescribed medications from your doctor. There might cases when you have an allergic reaction to a certain drug which is why you always need to consult your doctor first.
Cat Scratch Fever Complications
Even though it is true that this disease can be easily cured, you should not be complacent when you have the sickness. In fact, when cat scratch fever gets worse, it can lead to severe complications. Here are the possible and unfortunate complications that you can get from cat scratch fever.
Parinaud oculoglandualr syndrome
It is an eye infection wherein B. henselae directly infects the eye. In fact, cat scratch fever is one of the causes of this ailment. Although it can be treated through antibiotics, there are instances when surgery is needed to remove the tissue.
It is a brain disease wherein a certain bacteria spread to your brain. The problem with this is that it can lead to a permanent brain damage or worse, death.
It is an infection that happens in your bones. If the condition gets worse, it can lead to a bone damage that would require amputation.
This ailment involves your retina and optic nerve. When these areas are inflamed, you can experience blurred vision. You can get this disorder when the cat scratch fever infects your eye.
Who Are at Risk
Of course, the one who is most likely to get this disease is cat owners. Getting this ailment is easy too if you are the type of person who likes playing with random cats outside. According to CDC, the disorder is common for those living in the Southern part of the United States.
Children whose ages are five to nine are the common victims. But this does not mean that adults cannot have this disease, they can. Anyone can. Especially if you have a weak immune system, transplanted organs, cancer, HIV, or diabetes.
Cat Scratch Fever Prevention
Well, one of the easiest ways you can do to avoid having this sickness is by not having contact with stray cats. Ignore those cute kittens if you want to save yourself from cat scratch fever.
But if you are a mother or father of who knows how many cats, then one way you can prevent getting cat scratch fever is not having rough plays with your pets. This way, you can avoid getting scratched or bitten. Another thing you can do is to trim the nails of your cats.
Make sure that you wash your hands after you play with your cats. Skip playtimes as well if you have wounds in your body. Since the bacteria can come from fleas, you have to give your cats flea medication. You can even ask the help of a pest control agency to keep your home flea-free. Other ways you can do to keep these pests away are vacuuming and using flea combs on your cats.
It is also recommended that you keep your cats inside your house so that they will not have to play or fight with stray cats. And if you are planning to adopt a cat, it would be better to go for an older cat than a kitten as it is more prone to catching diseases.