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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Cat Scratch Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

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Do you love cats and have them as pets? Then you probably should know more about Cat scratch disease. Cat scratch disease also known as CSD is a type of disease caused by bacterial infections. This bacteria are spread by cats.

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The disease gets into the body and spread either by the cat licking an open wound on a person’s body or by scratching the surface of the skin so hard to cause an injury. Hence it’s name cat scratch disease.

People contract this disease from cats who are already infected with Bartonella Henselae Bacteria. If the saliva of a cat gets into the whitish part of your eye, you might likely get this disease too.

One thing you should know is that this disease isn’t communicable among humans hence you can’t get infected by having contact directly or indirectly with an infected individual.

After about 3-14days after the initial scratch which caused the skin to break, a mild infection begins to occur around the site of the scratch.

The infected area may now have pus, and it can appear round and swollen having lesions around the edges. The site of infection becomes unite warm to touch and very painful.

Are you wondering how your cat became infected initially? Well cats gets infected by bite from fleas and their droppings. When cats attempts to bite or scratch fleas, they pick up the infected diets from fleas under their nails and also between their teeth.

Another way by which they can contract this disease is by them fighting with other cats who are infected. Once the infected cat scratches or bites your own uninfected cat, the bacteria enters into the sore on your own cat. This way your cat becomes infected as well.

This bite can cause some serious complications in your cat. Although most times, there are no problems or issues when your cat gets this infection, however in other cases, this disease can cause severe inflammation of the vessels around the heart. This causes laboured breathing in your cat which will cause your cause to feel sick.

This infection can also develop within the lining of the mouth, within the eyes or within the urinary system. This infection will cause inflammation of these body parts as well as some of the internal organs of your cat.

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Cat Scratch Disease

There are however some risk factors and those who have these risk factors or are found within these risk factors need to be extra careful so as not to contract this disease. This factors include:

  1. People who have cats as pets, or interacts with them
  2. People with weakened immune system who have underlying diseases such as cancers, diabetes, transplanted organs or HIV can get this disease.
  3. Ladies who are pregnant.
  4. Children under 5years of age

There are symptoms to look out for in humans and they include:

  1. Blisters at the site of infected injury
  2. Lymph nodes around the bite or scratch area which can become swollen or inflamed.
  3. Severe fatigue and tiredness
  4. Severe headaches and in some people migraines.
  5. Fever or a slightly increased temperature of about 98.6F-100.4F
  6. Severe body aches.
  7. Loss of body weight in more serious cases
  8. Loss of appetite
  9. Sore throats.

When there is a more serious complications of this disease, the person may likely have the following symptoms: Severe back aches, chills and shivering, abdominal pain, joint pains at almost every joint in the body, rash and prolonged fever.

There are very serious complications that can result due to cat scratch fevers. They include:

1. Encephalopathy

This is a brain disease that can occur due to bacteria spreading to the brain. When bacteria crosses the blood-brain barrier into the brain, it can cause encephalopathy.

In some cases where it is not properly treated or detected on time, it can cause permanent brain damage, stroke or even brain death.

2. Neuroretinitis

Neuroretinitis occurs as a result of inflammation of the optic nerve as well as the retina. This causes blurry vision and if the inflammation is so severe, it can cause temporary blindness which may lead to permanent blindness if the inflammation is not reduced.

The inflammation occurs when the infection gets to the eyes or if the infection initially enters through the eyes. Once the infection is treated and the inflammation reduced on time, the patients vision will be restored.

3. Osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis occurs as a result of infection in the bone cells. If not treated early, it can cause bone damage which may become so severe and extensive such that amputation may be needed.

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4. Parinaud oculoglandular syndrome:

This is an infection that infects the eye. It has a similar clinical presentation to the infection known as “Pink eye”. This infection also occurs when the bacteria travels in the bloodstream to the eyes or when the bacteria enters directly through the eyes.

This syndrome can be treated with antibiotics but in some severe cases, surgery may be required in order to remove the infected tissues.

This disease can however be prevented by taking the following measures:

  1. Avoid contacts with cats. Avoid them scratching you or even licking your body. You just might have an unknown injury which when they lick, the bacteria might enter the blood stream through the infected wound.
  2. If you have a cat already, you should trim up their nails to avoid scratches.
  3. Also after playing or feeding your cats, Endeavour to wash your hands.
  4. Avoid your cats having contacts with other cats you are not sure if they are infected or not. If you are not sure if your neighbour’s cat is infected or not, then stop your cats from having contacts with them to prevent them from getting infected.
  5. Endeavour to check your cats if they have fleas using a flea comb. You can also control fleas in your compound by vacuuming your house regularly.
  6. Younger cats and kittens are easily susceptible to contracting this disease. So if you are so much into cats but you have a weakened immune system, then you can adopt an older cat because they are not easily susceptible to the disease.

If you are having any of these symptoms, Endeavour to visit your doctor for proper checkups likewise take your cats to the vet for checkup well.

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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative & educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

Deborah Akinola
Wirter, poet and public speaker

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