Cat scratch disease is a form of infection that spreads from cats to humans. It is typically caused by the Bartonella henselae bacteria. One can acquire the disease when an infected cat scratches, bites or licks.
What are the signs?
It is important to note that infected cats do not appear sick, but might have symptoms after a week of being bit or scratched:
- One or several sores or bumps on the site of the bite or scratch
- Diminished appetite
After 1-4 weeks, the bacteria move into the lymph nodes near the site of the bite or scratch, usually in the groin, armpit or neck. The enlarged lymph nodes become painful and turn reddened.
Management of cat scratch disease
Generally, the disease does not require treatment and might settle within 1-2 weeks. Nevertheless, it is best to consult a doctor if treatment is needed if the disease is suspected.
The enlarged lymph glands typically start to dwindle in size in 2 months but might not return to their normal size for several months. Oftentimes, the lymph nodes end up scarred from the infection and remain larger than normal. In case the lymph nodes are significantly tender and swollen or the infection has spread to body parts, it might require antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria. Once an individual acquired the disease, it is unlikely to develop it again.
Pain medications can be given to reduce the fever and headache. Make sure that the instructions given by the doctor are carefully followed.