What causes cat scratch fever?

The rickettsial organism Bartonella henselae causes cat scratch fever. The organism is between a virus and a bacteria in type. It is in infected fleas. If the cat has fleas the disease is transmitted to a person by a bite or scratch as the organism is in the cat's mouth and/or on the cat's claws from grooming.

Homes should be treated for fleas and the cat should be flea combed regularly. Avoid heavy duty chemical treatments as these are toxic.

The symptoms occur about 3-10 days after being scratched. At the site of the scratch in about half the cases, the skin becomes red and raised. The lymph nodes in the armpit, groin and neck become tender. This can last for several months.

Rarely the person suffers more severe illness and in 5% of cases the person suffers from flu like symptoms.

Cats are usually asymptomatic (no signs).

People who have cat scratch fever should consult their GP. If the cat does show signs take him or her to the vet. Treatment includes the drugs azithromycin and doxycycline.

This is absolutely not a reason to declaw a cat.

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