Cat Scratch Disease Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Cat Scratch Disease Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Cat scratch disease Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

This is a common disease if you have cats as pets at home. Usually kids play with the cats unaware of the health hazards they might cause. With the scratches and bites of cats a bacteria is transmitted which is called Bartonella bacteria and the infection is spread to the person. It is also called as CSD; Cat scratch fever; Bartonellosis.

The Causes Of The Disease

The disease called Cat scratch disease is caused by Bartonella henselae. If a cat that is infected scratches or bites you then this disease is spread. The disease is also spread if there is any contact with the infected cat’s saliva on skin that is wounded or the white of the eye.

The Symptoms Of The Disease

There are some common symptoms the person who is infected with the disease may show. They are:

  • Bump (papule) or blister (pustule) at site of injury (usually the first sign)
  • Low energy
  • Fever (in few patients)
  • Headache
  • Lymph node swelling (lymphadenopathy) at the place of the scratch or bite
  • Overall discomfort (malaise)

The symptoms that are less common may include:

  • Loss of appetite( patient doesn’t like to eat and has lost interest)
  • Sore throat
  • Weight loss

The Exams and Tests Of The Disease

  • The health care provider will suspect cat scratch disease if you have swollen lymph nodes and a scratch or bite from an infected cat.
  • An enlarged spleen may be revealed after physical examination.
  • Sometimes the lymph node that is infected may form a tunnel (fistula) that passes through the skin and drains out fluid.
  • This disease is not found as it is difficult to diagnose. However, there is a test that can give accurate results and detect infection because of the bacteria the test is Bartonella henselae IFA test.
  • In order to rule out any other causes of swelling of glands a lymph node biopsy may also be done.

The Treatment Of The Disease

  • This disease is not a life threatening one. There is no medical intervention required. Only in cases that are very severe some antibiotics may be recommended like azithromycin.
  • In patients suffering from AIDS and others who have less immune system the cat scratch disease is more harmful, and treatment with antibiotics is often recommended.

The Outlook (Prognosis) Of The Disease

Adults and Children with normal immune system will recover completely without any treatment. But anybody who has a suppressed immune system, treatment with antibiotics is recommended and it leads to recovery.


  • Encephalopathy
  • Neuroretinitis
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Parinaud's syndrome (granulomatous conjunctivitis with adenopathy)

When to Contact a Medical Professional

You need to consult your doctor when you find enlarged lymph nodes and you have been in contact with a cat.

The Prevention Of The Disease

The prime prevention is to avoid contact with cats. If you love cats and you have pets wash your hands thoroughly after playing with a cat, let it not scratch and bite you , and avoid cat saliva to decrease risk of infection.

Reviewed By:

Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)

Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad