Can You Really Get Cat Scratch Fever?

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Ever been licked, bitten or scratched by a cat? Did you feel tired, feverish, had chills, a headache and a backache within a week or a month later? You could have had cat scratch fever, also known as cat scratch disease (CSD).
You could even have these symptoms within 2 months of the cat scratch or bite.
The scratch or bite site will be inflamed, and you could develop an eye infection.
Most cases occur in the fall or in the winter.
There are estimates that 22,000 cases occur each year in the United States.
Children are the ones who exhibit the worst symptoms and in some cases need to be hospitalized.
Although people of all ages can get CSD, for children 10 years and younger CSD is one of the most common causes of chronic swollen or enlarged lymph nodes in children.
25% of the these infections result in severe systemic illness.
The best way to avoid the disease, if you own a cat, is to keep the cat free of fleas, especially if the cat is a kitten.
The disease is caused by a bacteria that is particularly carried by kittens in their blood.
Since it is a blood borne bacteria, fleas also carry it.
It is best to keep your cat clean because flea feces also carry the bacteria.
If your cat is infested flea feces are probably in its fur.
Studies have shown that approximately 40% of domestic cats carry the bacteria at some time in their lives.
Infected cats do not show any signs of illness.
So you cannot tell which cats can spread the disease to you.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends several actions that you can take to prevent cat scratch fever.
Number 1 - Avoid "rough play" with cats, especially kittens.
This includes any activity that may lead to cat scratches and bites.
Number 2 - Wash cat bites and scratches immediately and thoroughly with running water and soap.
Number 3 - Do not allow cats to lick open wounds that you may have.
Although an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure, if you are bitten or scratched by a cat, you may still become infected.
Some people may get infections with pus and pronounced swelling where they were scratched or bitten by a cat.
The disease generally clears up without medical treatment within one month.
The CDC also recommends that you contact your physician for make sure that the fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue, are not symptoms associated with a more severe condition.
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