Cat Scratch Disease (cont.)
In this Article
- Cat scratch disease facts*
- What is cat scratch disease? What are cat scratch disease symptoms and signs?
- How do cats transmit Bartonella henselae to people?
- What are serious but rare complications of cat scratch disease?
- What is the treatment for cat scratch disease?
- Is it possible to prevent cat scratch disease?
- Where can people find more information about cat scratch disease?
How cats and people become infected
Cats can get infected with B. henselae from flea bites and flea dirt (droppings) getting into their wounds. By scratching and biting at the fleas, cats pick up the infected flea dirt under their nails and between their teeth. Cats can also become infected by fighting with other cats that are infected. The germ spreads to people when infected cats bite or scratch a person hard enough to break their skin. The germ can also spread when infected cats lick at wounds or scabs that you may have.
Serious but rare complications
Although rare, CSD can cause people to have serious complications. CSD can affect the brain, eyes, heart, or other internal organs. These rare complications, which may require intensive treatment, are more likely to occur in children younger than 5 years and people with weakened immune systems.
Most cats with B. henselae infection show NO signs of illness, but on rare occasions this disease can cause inflammation of the heart -- making cats very sick with labored breathing. B. henselae infection may also develop in the mouth, urinary system, or eyes. Your veterinarian may find that some of your cat's other organs may be inflamed.
Available tests and treatments
Talk to your doctor about testing and treatments for CSD. People are only tested for CSD when the disease is severe and the doctor suspects CSD based on the patient's symptoms. CSD is typically not treated in otherwise healthy people.
Talk to your veterinarian about testing and treatments for your cat. Your veterinarian can tell you whether your cat requires testing or treatment.
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