Cat Scratch Fever
(Cat Scratch Disease)
DefinitionCat scratch fever is a bacterial infection you can get from being scratched or bitten by a cat, kitten, or sometimes a dog. This usually goes away without treatment, but it can become a serious condition that requires care from your doctor.
CausesThe bacteria that cause cat scratch fever are found in fleas. They are passed on to cats through flea bites. They are passed on to humans through a cat scratch or bite.
Risk FactorsThe most common risk factor is being bitten or scratched by a cat or kitten.
SymptomsCat scratch fever may cause:
- A crusting sore or blister that forms over the site of a cat scratch or bite
- Swollen, painful lymph nodes
- Low fever
- Flu-like symptoms such as weakness, nausea, chills, loss of appetite, and body aches
|Swollen Lymph Nodes|
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DiagnosisYour doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. If you remember that you were bitten or scratched by a cat, your doctor may be able to diagnose the disease based your symptoms. Your doctor may want a blood test if the diagnosis is not clear.
TreatmentCat-scratch fever usually clears up without treatment. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
- Non-prescription pain relievers, such as acetaminophen
- Antibiotics—If your doctor feels it is necessary, antibiotics can be prescribed to help prevent worsening infection or the spread of the infection to other parts of the body. This may be used especially if you are very ill or you have a weakened immune system.
- Lymph node drainage—If a lymph node is very swollen or very painful, your doctor may drain it to help it heal and to relieve pain. To do this, your doctor will put a needle into the swollen node. Fluid inside the node will drain out through the needle.
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