Tuesday 7 October 2008

Cat scratch fever symptoms

Cat Scratch - we can avoid them
Photo by Hodowca

Cat scratch fever symptoms can include impairment of vision. There is a very useful document on the PubMed Central website, which describes the symptoms of cat scratch fever and an interesting case of a person whose sight was affected - this however is rare please note.

The general symptoms are flu like to varying degrees and the area around the scratch (or bite, both can be equally responsible) becomes swollen (usually the hand or arm) and the lymph nodes swell and become tender. This can last for about 2 months, a long time.

There are more extensive and specific symptoms that may occur and these are listed here. The first to mention is the case of a 25 year man who acquired a kitten and no doubt played and enjoyed that. He got scratched numerous times apparently and began to suffer from flu-like symptoms from which he recovered in about 2 weeks.

However tests on his eyes indicated that he had suffered visual loss in his right eye due to a swelling of the optic nerve and a "macular star" (presumed star shaped spot). This was cured by an antibiotic.

This is obviously quite serious and actually makes me more cautious about playing with my cat. Anytime that I have been scratched bitten it has been in play and I have overdone it and got my cat too excited.

Other diseases than can occur - these are rare cat scratch fever symptoms as far as I am aware:

Cat scratch fever symptoms - Ocular - relating to the eye

Parinaud's oculoglandular syndrome - a small sore develops on the membrane lining the eyelid. There can also be conjunctivitis and swollen lymph nodes at a point in front of the ear. This form of cat scratch fever symptoms could be caused by transmitting cats saliva from the fur to the eye after rubbing one's eye with a hand.
  • Disciform keratitis - an infiltration of an abnormal substance into the cornea
  • Anterior uveitis - an inflammation that involves the iris and ciliary body
  • Vitritis - an inflammation of the jelly in the posterior portion of the eye
  • Pars planitis - inflammation of the peripheral retina
  • Focal retinal vasculitis - sight can be damaged by an inflammatory eye disease affecting the retinal vasculature
  • Neuroretinitis - an inflammation that affects the optic nerve head and posterior pole of the retina
  • Retinal vascular occlusions - blockage of blood vessels in the retina affecting vision
  • Focal choroiditis - An inflammation of the layer of the eye behind the retina
  • Serous retinal detachment - retina becomes detached
  • Peripapillary angiomatous lesions

Cat scratch fever symptoms - Non-ocular - not relating to the eye
  • Encephalopathy - degenerative disease of the brain
  • Polyneuritis - widespread inflammation of the nerves
  • Arthritis - sore inflammed joints
  • Endocarditis - inflammation of the heart lining
  • Osteomyelitis - an acute or chronic infection of the bone and bone marrow
  • Hepatosplenic infections - related to liver disease
  • Erythema nodosum - inflammation of fat cells under skin
Cat scratch fever - see another picture.

Go to Cat Scratch Fever for a full description of this illness.

Cat Scratch Disease

This disease is also called, "Bartonella" as it is caused by the "rickettsial organism Bartonella henselae. This organism is in infected fleas which feed on the cat. Cat scratch disease affects about 22,000 per year in the USA. Cats usually carry the organism without signs (asymptomatic).

The cat nearly always transmits the organism to a person through:
  • infected flea feces under its nails and then scratching the person and;
  • grooming and getting infected flea feces in its mouth and thence to the person through a bite.
Most cases occur September - January. Signs are enlarged lymph nodes for several weeks. Initial signs in half the cases are a "raised red sore" at the site of the scratch three to ten days after the scratch. All cases result in enlarged and tender lymph nodes in armpit, groin and neck.

Five percent of cases develop fever, fatigue and headache. Rarely the symptoms progress as mentioned above (eyes). The liver, brain, spleen, joints, lungs and other organs can be affected. If the person affected has a reduced immune system, cat scratch disease can be life threatening. Although from my standpoint it is extremely rare to even get cat scratch disease but that is a layperson's opinion/experiences.


You can't tell if a cat carries the organism. Avoid getting scratched and bitten. That is our responsibility. Be gentle with your cat and respect your cat.

If bitten/scratched wash the area immediately. Your cat should not lick any open wound that you might have.

Cat declawing is not the answer - try the numerous alternatives, please (The Shocking Truth About Declawing Cats). If a person has become infected by the house cat, the cat should be quarantined and veterinary assistance sought. Cats can be treated with doxycycline, amoxicillin-clavulanate or azithromycin.


Information about cat scratch disease from Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, Fully Revised and Updated page 101 - 102.

Information about cat scratch fever symptoms (eyes) - Sources: too various to list but lots. Some of these diseases are rare/unusual. The list comes from PubMed Central.

Cat scratch fever symptoms to cat health problems

1 comment:

  1. It can affect the eyes that much? Most of the people who experience this remember being around a cat, but often can't recall receiving a scratch or a bite.


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