Cat scratch disease is a disease of humans, caused by bites and scratches from cats carrying the organism Bartonella
What are the signs of cat scratch disease?
There are a variety of signs including weight loss, fever, malaise, headache, muscle aches, conjunctivitis, skin eruptions, joint pain, and enlargement of the lymph nodes. It takes about 3 weeks from exposure to develop signs, and most cases are self-limiting but may take several months to resolve. The disease can be treated with antibiotics.
Can all cats transmit cat scratch disease?
Only cats carrying the organism can transmit it. It is possible that fleas can transmit the organism from infected cats to humans, and to other cats. The disease appears to be transmitted most commonly from kittens, which can remain infectious for weeks to months, after which the organism disappears from their blood. It is not clear whether cats can be reinfected, and there are no reported cases of any human being infected more than once.
Is cat scratch disease serious?
Since most people infected with the organism recover, it is of more importance in immunocompromised people. These people especially should avoid kittens, and cat-induced wounds should be cleansed as soon as possible.
By Provet Resident Vet
Contributors: Dr Rebecca Bragg BVSc, Dr Julia Adams BVSc