Cat scratch disease is brought about by the Bartonella henselae bacteria. This bacterium is present in the saliva and claws of cats and their kittens. The bacteria are transmitted to humans via exposure to the infected cats from a lick, bite or scratch.
If exposed to an infected cat or kitten, the site of contact might appear sore that is followed by body ache, fever, malaise, headache and swollen lymph nodes. Individuals with a healthy immune system can overcome the condition and symptomatic treatment can be started.
What are the signs?
The indications for the typical and atypical form are different.
The symptoms are generally mild, and most individuals have a history of contact to cats most of the time.
- Reddened patch that forms in 1-3 weeks after exposure to an infected cat. It turns into a lump that might form pus and rupture that ends up as a scar.
- Lethargy or malaise
- Flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache and body aches
- Lymphadenopathy or enlarged lymph nodes in the head, armpit, neck and groin area
An individual with the atypical disease might have signs of the typical form. Oftentimes, they might only be present with symptoms specific to the atypical form.
- Abdominal pain
- Poor or diminished appetite and weight loss
- Back or joint pain
- Skin rashes
- High fever and chills
- Sore throat
- Spleen enlargement
- Bone lesions
- Pleural effusion
Management of cat scratch disease
Cat scratch disease is typically mild and symptomatic treatment is enough for most individuals. Complete resolution of the condition is likely for those with a healthy immune system.
Some of the treatment options include:
- Application of a warm compress for mild to moderate cases of cat scratch disease. This helps lessen the swelling of the lymph nodes along with fever and pain medications.
- Aspiration of the lymph nodes using a needle is oftentimes carried out to reduce the pain.
- In severe cases of cat scratch disease and individuals with a compromised immune system, antibiotics are prescribed by the doctor.