Cat scratch fever or cat scratch disease (CSD) is an infectious illness caused by bartonella henselae. According to the National Center for Infectious Diseases, people with CSD are bitten or scratched by a cat or are exposed to cat saliva. The bacteria are carried in the cat’s saliva. You can get infected after a cat scratches you if the cat’s paws have the bacteria on them from licking. You can also get the bacteria in your eyes if you pet a cat that has the bacteria on its fur and then you rub your eyes.

The symptoms I experienced included fever and swollen lymph nodes on my neck. The puncture wounds and scratches on my arms were sore and slow to heal. Other symptoms can include bone or joint pain, abdominal pain, fatigue, headache and poor appetite. In some cases, antibiotics are required to clear up the infection.

Cats do not show any signs of illness, so you cannot predict which cats can pass the disease on to you. However, kittens are more likely to be carriers. Cats do not require any treatment since they simply carry the disease. Experts think the cat may get the bacteria from fleas since bartonella henselae has been found in fleas. There is no evidence that a bite from an infected flea can give you CSD.

You can take a few precautions against cat scratch fever. Avoid teasing or provoking your cat. Wash and disinfect cat scratches and cuts immediately. Avoid letting the cat lick an open cut on you. Control fleas.

Have you ever had an experience with cat scratch fever?

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