Q: My doctor diagnosed me with Cat Scratch Disease. What can you tell me about the disease in cats and how it is transferred to people?
A: Cat Scratch Disease (CSD) is caused by a bacteria called Bartonella henselae. People who get the disease usually have a compromised immune system.
It occurs from a scratch from a cat that contains flea poop (referred to as flea dirt). After the scratch, swelling on the skin results, and the local lymph node starts to swell weeks later. Immunocompromised people can develop more serious symptoms.
The most important factor in reducing the potential for this disease is appropriate and ongoing flea control on your cat. Cats themselves do not usually become infected with the disease.
It has been associated with fever and lymph node enlargement in cats. There are multiple tests for the disease in cats but it can still be tricky to diagnose if the cat is actually infected.
The most important takeaway message is that all cats should have a good quality flea prevention program. For further information on the disease in humans and cats, go to “Bartonella and Cat Scratch Disease” on www.veterinarypartner.com, and at www.cdc.gov/bartonella/index.html.
For further questions, you can contact Dr. Lavac at 310-828-4587.