The cat-scratch disease or cat-scratch fever is an infection due to a certain type of bacteria that is present in the saliva of cats and can be easily passed on from cats to humans. Based on studies conducted, it is believed that cats can get the bacteria from fleas.
This disease is not considered as a severe disease in individuals who are in a healthy state. On the other hand, it can be issue for those who have a weakened immune system. This includes individuals who are undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, have AIDS and those who have diabetes.
Symptoms of cat-scratch disease
Initially, a blister or sore can develop on the area where the cat scratched or bitten you. It usually takes up to 3-10 days for the blister or sore to appear after the cut or bite was sustained. Take note that the sore or blister will take a long time to heal.
The infection of the lymph nodes can also develop, especially the glands that are close to the scrape or bite. The affected lymph nodes can swell to an inch or more and a low-grade fever will develop.
When to consult a doctor
It is best to call a doctor if you notice the following:
- Bite or scratch from a cat that does not heal for a long time.
- The area around the bite or scratch turns red in color and it continues to enlarge for more than 2 days after the injury.
- Persistent fever after the cat bite or scratch.
- Joint or bone pain, unusual fatigue and abdominal pain for more than 2-3 weeks.
- Swollen and painful lymph nodes for more than 2-3 weeks.
Causes and risk factors
An individual can get the cat-scratch disease from a cat bite or scratch. The infection develops if the paw of the cat has the bacteria which are transferred to its paws once the cat licks on its paws.
In case of a cat bite, the bacteria are passed on via its saliva. If the bacteria are present on the fur of the cat and you rub your eyes, it can gain entry through your eyes. Majority of individuals who acquire the cat-scratch disease could not recall being scratched or bitten by a cat.
Treating cat-scratch disease
In most cases, cat-scratch disease usually clears up on its own without requiring treatment. Over-the-counter medications for pain such as ibuprofen or aspirin can be given for pain relief. As an initial first aid measure, the application of a heat compress to the affected area can help relieve discomfort and pain.
If the lymph nodes are still inflamed and sore for more than 3 months, antibiotics can be given. Antibiotics can also help if the individual has fever or the infection involves the liver, bones and other bodily organs.
Preventing cat-scratch disease
The best way to avoid the disease is to avoid cats. This is the simplest way to prevent the disease but it does not necessarily involve getting rid of your cat if you have one.