As suggested by its name, cat scratch disease is a disease primarily transmitted from cats or kittens and their scratches or bites, albeit, it can also be transmitted through cat saliva coming into contact with the mucosal surfaces or broken skin. Humans cannot transmit the infection from one person to another. Moreover, it must be noted that some 10% of cases of cat scratch disease are from other animals, such as arthropods.
Cat scratch disease is an infection from the bacterium Bartonella henselae that are spread through flea bites and flea dirt coming into contact with their wounds or from fighting other infected cats. Cats are only carriers of this disease, thus they can carry the bacteria for months and still not have any signs of illness. It is estimated that almost half of all cats carry this bacteria, especially those below the age of one.
Signs and Symptoms of Cat Scratch Disease
The signs and symptoms of cat scratch disease are often mild and appear after three to fourteen days after coming into contact with an infected cat. The following signs and symptoms usually manifest when afflicted with cat scratch disease:
- A red bump or blister at the site of scratch or bite – typically the first sign the appears
- Site where bacteria enters the body
- Usually found on the arms, hands, head or scalp
- Pus may be present
- Swelling, tenderness or pain in one or more lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) closest to the site of injury
- Commonly in the underarms, neck or groin area
- Low grade fever
- Malaise (overall feeling of discomfort)
Although not common, the following symptoms may also be associated with Cat Scratch Disease
- Sore throat
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
Complications of Cat Scratch Disease:
It is not likely for serious complications to develop from cat scratch disease but some potential complications are likely to develop in immunocompromised individuals and children below the age of five. Internal organs are most commonly affected. These complications include:
- Parinaud’s Syndrome – eye infection
First Aid Treatment for Cat Scratch Disease
Cat scratch disease is often not fatal and does not usually require medical treatment. However, one can seek medical attention if they become bothered by the signs and symptoms previously mentioned. To learn more about how to apply fist aid on injuries caused by animals, enroll in First Aid Training.
- Ensure that the cat is away from the victim already in order not to pose further harm.
- If there is bleeding, stop the bleeding by applying direct pressure on the wound using a clean absorbent cloth. Keep the injured area above the above the heart, if possible.
- Wash the scratch or bite with warm running water and mild soap for five minutes. It s important to clean wounds from cats immediately because they are likely to cause infections.
- Apply an antibiotic ointment on the wound.
- Cover with a clean, dry dressing.
Cat scratch disease comes from cat scratches/ bites infected by the Bartonella henselae bacterium causing lymph nodes to swell.