Getting the odd scratch from your pet is something every cat owner is used to, but do you know the risks that these scratches can carry?
In some cases, your feline pet giving you a scratch or bite can have greater consequences than a mild itch, and this is due to a disease carried by around half of cats at some point in their life.
This disease is known as Cat Scratch Disease or Cat Scratch Fever and is caused by the bacteria Bartonella Henselae.
It has no symptoms in cats and does not harm them, however the consequences can be severe for humans if they contract the disease. The disease can be passed on through both scratches and bites.
What are the symptoms?
Swollen lymph nodes, especially around the head, neck, and upper limbs
The first sign of the disease is usually a small bump or blister on the area of skin where the bite or scratch took place. Over time, the lymph nodes around this area will become swollen and can remain swollen for two to three weeks.
On rare occasions, the symptoms can lead to more severe consequences.
Some people may develop a high temperature that does not improve with time. Infections in the bones, joints, liver, lungs or spleen can also happen as a result of a cat scratch.
The illness caused by a cat scratch has the potential to be most severe in children under five, and among those with weak immune systems.
A doctor should be contacted if a cat bite or scratch that is not healing or is getting worse, the red area around a bite or scratch is enlarging, a high fever that lasts more than two days after the bite or scratch or if they are experiencing severe pain.
How to avoid the disease
The best way to avoid getting Cat Scratch Fever is to avoid rough play with cats.
Those who do get scratches or bites from cats should wash the cut or bite with soap and water and make sure it does not become infected.