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Cat Scratch Disease - Avoid Rough PLay

Many people love cats because they’re so low maintenance: they’re happy most of the day just sleeping and being draped around furniture. They don’t really crave as much attention and contact like dogs and for cat lovers, this suits them just fine. When cats decide to give us attention (and they do decide, not the other way around), they can be super affectionate. However, cats can be very unpredictable too and you might have found yourself scratched or bitten in the middle of an affectionate play.
We have to be careful about these occurrences because we might not be aware of it, but cats can give us diseases. One of these is a condition called cat scratch disease, which is caused by bacteria called Bartonella henselae. The bacteria are present on the saliva of the cat and experts believe that it is ticks that carry the bacteria, infecting the cat (there is no evidence though that tick-human bites can cause the same). And we know how cats clean themselves: with their saliva. This is why people can also get infected when they get scratched, because cats clean their paws by licking. Their fur may also carry the bacteria, which is why in many cases people with cat scratch disease don’t really remember being scratched by their household feline. Most probably in these cases they touched a cat’s fur and scratched their eyes without knowing it. People can also get it from having contact with a cat while they have an open wound.

The symptoms of cat scratch disease are the swelling of lymph nodes in the site of injury or at the point of contact and blisters forming on the injury site. You may also have a low grade fever if you are infected with the disease. Some will have headaches, chills and abdominal pain, but this is not common. Most of the time, cat scratch disease will not require any treatment except for the usual fever medication or antiseptic on the wound since the symptoms tend to go away on its own without any complications. However, people who have immune systems that are compromised such as those undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy and those with immune system disorders may be at risk of complications, therefore they should consult with their doctors at the first sign of infection. Otherwise healthy people whose bites take a turn for the worse and whose lymph nodes continue to be swollen after weeks need to also see a doctor. You may be prescribed antibiotics and if the lymph nodes are too painful, drainage may be performed.

The bacteria don’t cause cats to get sick so there’s usually no need to treat them. Because of this, it’s impossible to tell by sight if a cat has the bacteria or not. An estimated 40% of all cats will carry the bacteria at some point in their lives, so cat lovers should be careful. Of this number, it’s usually kittens that carry the bacteria.

To prevent getting cat scratch disease, people are advised to avoid rough play with cats and kittens, especially children. Children may not be aware of the actions of cats, and they may accidentally get bitten or scratched. You should also control fleas on your cat to lessen the risk of them carrying the bacteria. If you do get bitten, place your hand over running water and cleanse thoroughly with a mild soap. You should also avoid contact with cats if you have an open wound.