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Cat scratches and bites can cause cat scratch disease, a bacterial infection carried in cat saliva. The bacteria are passed from a cat to a human after the cat licks its paws then scratches human skin. Rubbing the eyes after petting a cat's fur can also spread cat scratch disease. Young kittens younger than one year of age are more likely to scratch, increasing the likelihood of infection.
Cat scratch disease is caused by a bacterium carried in the cat saliva. The bacteria are passed from a cat to a human after the cat licks its paws then scratches human skin. Rubbing the eyes after petting a cat's fur can also spread cat scratch disease.
Factors that can increase your risk for getting cat scratch disease include:
The following are the most common symptoms of cat scratch disease. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of cat scratch disease may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.
Diagnosis is based on a complete history, including a history of being scratched by a cat or kitten, and physical exam.
Specific treatment for cat scratch disease will be determined by your health care provider based on the following:
Treatment may include:
Most healthy people don’t have complications from cat scratch fever. However, people whose immune systems are weak (due to HIV/AIDS, receiving chemotherapy, or having diabetes) can have complications such as:
Avoid being scratched or bitten by cats or kittens. If scratched or bitten, wash the area right away with soap and water. Do not allow cats to lick wounds you may have.
If a cat scratch or bite becomes red or swollen and you develop flu-like symptoms, including headache, decreased appetite, fatigue, joint pain, or fever, you should contact your health care provider.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your health care provider:
Bayhealth is Southern Delaware’s healthcare leader with hospitals in Dover and in Milford. Bayhealth provides a wide range of medical services, including cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics and rehabilitation, pediatrics, respiratory care, sleep care, surgical weight loss and women’s services.