Many cat owners simply love their furry friends because of their playfulness and personality. Of course, these furry feline friends can also make you sick! Toxoplasmosis is an occasional problem that proper hygiene can prevent. However, cat scratch disease is a problem that can occur at any time and cannot always be prevented.
Defining Cat Scratch Disease
Cat scratch disease is bacterial based and the name of the microorganism is bartonella henselae. People who get cat scratch disease often contract it from a bite or scratch from a cat. If the bite or scratch is promptly washed with soap and water and treated with an antibiotic ointment, chances are that no infection will occur. However, if left untreated, the bite or scratch can turn into cat scratch disease.
Typically, a minor infection occurs at the site where the cat bit or scratched. The lymph nodes become swollen, particularly around your head and neck area as well as the upper body. Some people who develop cat scratch disease will develop fever, fatigue, headaches and even a decrease in appetite.
Transmission of Cat Scratch Disease
Not all cats carry the bartonella henslae bacteria in their body. In fact, only about 35-40% of cats ever get it. Most of the time this special bacteria does not make your cat ill so you do not ever get any indication about whether or not you could contract the disease. While adult cats do pass on cat scratch disease to humans through biting and scratching, it is kittens that predominantly spread the disease because they get it from their parents or older cats.
Healthy individuals normally are not affected very much by cat scratch disease. However, if your immune system is compromised such as through AIDS, cancer or are undergoing chemotherapy treatments, you could end up with more complications than normal. Many studies show that fleas which bite cats can carry the same bacteria but so far, cat scratch fever has never been transmitted via the flea.
Tips on Avoiding Cat Scratch Disease
The best way to avoid cat scratch disease is to keep from getting bitten or scratched. Therefore, do not rough house with your cat, especially playful, precocious kittens. Rough playing tends to imprint biting and scratching, however un-malicious, in kittens. Therefore, prevent errant behavior before it starts.
Another way to prevent cat scratch disease is to avoid allowing your cat to lick any open cuts or wounds you may have on your body. The bacteria can be present in their saliva which could then be transferred to you. Always wash your hands after handling your cat, particularly if you were licked, bitten or scratched.
Chances are that you can wash away the bacteria before it enters the bloodstream. However, if you do show signs of infection and symptoms of cat scratch disease, visit your doctor immediately to get treated and avoid any health complications.