All You Need To Know About Cat Scratch Fever: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Diagnosis, Prevention

Your sweet, innocent looking little pet can sometimes be dangerous for your health and that’s why here’s all you need to know about cat scratch fever.

Charu Sharma
Written by: Charu SharmaPublished at: Sep 28, 2021
All You Need To Know About Cat Scratch Fever: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Diagnosis, Prevention

Here is a quick question, Are you a cat person or a dog person? If your quick answer to this was ‘a cat person’ then this article is definately or you. Keeping a pet can help you in many ways as it can be your emotional support in times of trouble but it surely comes with many responsibilities as well. When talking about responsibilities here we are not just talking about taking care of the pet but of yourself as well. As cats are known to be one of those aggressive animals and can scratch you with those paws, it is important to know about the danger caused due to these cat scratches and its aftermath. 

Your sweet, innocent looking little pet can sometimes be dangerous for your health and it is important to take a few things into consideration in order to avoid the complications. Here is everything that a cat lover needs to know about a cat scratch fever with Dr. Rishabh Kohli, General Physician, Wellness Healthcare.

What is a cat scratch fever?

As said, getting a new pet comes along with some responsibilities which includes taking care of that animal and yourself as well. Where cats transmit many types of infections to humans, cat scratch fever is one of them. Also termed as the cat scratch disease this is a bacterial infection which is transmitted from an infected cat to humans. When a cat is infected by a bacteria known as Bartonella Henselae it has the potential to transmit this bacteria to the humans via scratching, biting and even licking on the open wounds. As the transmission takes place through these mediums,the bacteria enters a person’s bloodstream and causes an illness known as the cat scratch fever.


Image Credits- Raising Children Network

Also Read: Here Are 6 Useful Natural Remedies To Manage Fever At Home

This condition is mostly observed in small children who are in the age group of 5 to 9 years or in people with a weak immune system. The risk of this disease is more in a person who is pregnant, is suffering through cancer, has diabetes, AIDS, HIV or has undergone some kind of organ transplant.

Here’s what Dr. Kolhi has to say about this “Cat Scratch disease is an infectious disease caused by Bartonella Henslae, usually transmitted by the nail scratch or bites from cats . The saliva of the cat is infectious. Symptoms of the disease are usually mild and resolve on their own , with lymph nodes being affected the most . Lymph nodes of groin , axilla ,and upper limbs are involved. In rare cases the brain and the heart might be involved in the form of encephalitis and myocarditis which can be fatal.”

Cause of cat scratch fever

Well we hope that you are not looking at your cat with those suspicious eyes right now as not any cat can cause you to suffer from this illness. Surprisingly this disease is not just spread through a cat but some flea butes can also be responsible for causing this condition. Let us take a close look at the causes of this disease-

  • Being scratched by an infected cat
  • Being bitten by an infected cat
  • Being licked on an open wound by an infected cat
  • A flea or tick bite that is carrying the bacterial infection

Symptoms of cat scratch fever

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Looking for the symptoms can be really beneficial for getting a timely treatment and avoiding further complications. Although your cat would not show any sign or symptom of getting infected with the Bartonella Henselae bacteria, a human might have plenty. Here are some of the symptoms of cat scratch fever which will tell you that the Bartonella Henselae bacteria has been transmitted into your body-

  • Swollen lymph nodes near the scratch or bite site
  • Body ache
  • Fatigue
  • Blisters near the scratch or bite site
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight Loss
  • Bachace
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Joint pain
  • Rashes
  • Chills
  • Tiredness 

Prevention for cat scratch fever

trim cat nails

Image Credits- Getty Images

A wise man once said “Prevention is better than cure” and by following his golden words here we have listed down some of the prevention tips that you can opt for inorder to protect yourself from this disease. Before jumping in let's see what Dr. Kolhi has to say about this “The prevention from this disease generally involves proper hygiene, proper handling of cat faeces.” The other preventive measures that you can take to stay safe and avoid the complications of this disease are-

  • Keep your cat indoors
  • Wash hands after playing with your cat
  • Avoid feral cats and don’t let your cat play with them either
  • Do not let your cat lick your wounds
  • Do not let your cat to scratch or bite you
  • Keep your cat’s nails trimmed
  • Use a flea comb to check your cat for fleas
  • Maintain proper hygiene

Diagnosis of cat scratch fever

Well if you have observed any of the symptoms of cat scratch fever in your body then do not wait for them to elevate and visit your doctor as soon as you can. It is important  to get a proper diagnosis and early treatment to avoid further complications and treat the disease at time. A blood test known as the PCR test or Polymerase Chain Reaction test is performed by a medical expert in order to check if there are any traces of Bartonella Henselae bacteria in your body. Other than the PCR test your doctor might also conduct a physical examination prior to the test to see if you are infected with the cat scratch fever or is it some other kind of illness or infection.

Treatment for Cat Scratch Fever 


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After diagnosis the next step which comsin is the treatment. Any infection or diseases can be curbed if treated at an early stage via proper channels. Dr. Kolhi says that “The treatment is usually done with Azithromycin  which is the preferred antibiotic for the cat scratch disease.”

The other treatment option that your doctor might go for depending upon your condition are-

  • Rifampin
  • Trimethoprim
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Tetracycline 

Make sure that you visit your doctor whenever you see any symptoms of the disease and get it treated on time to avoid the complications of this disease.

With inputs from Dr. Rishabh Kohli, General Physician, Wellness Healthcare