Cat-scratch disease often needs medical care

When most people think about animal-related injuries, their minds turn toward dogs and other large animals. Those animals aren’t the only ones that can cause issues. In fact, cats can cause injuries that require considerable medical care. One disease, cat-scratch disease, often requires antibiotic treatment.

Cat-scratch disease can occur in two ways. One way is that a cat that is infected licks an open wound. The other way is that the cat bites or scratches the person and transmits the disease. In either case, the result is the same — the person ends up with a painful bacterial infection.

Around 40 percent of cats carry the bacterium that causes cat-scratch fever. This bacterium, Bartonella henselae, is more likely to be present in cats that haven’t turned a year old yet. Many cats who are carriers of the bacterium don’t show any signs of being infected.

The infection that is part of cat-scratch disease often takes three to 14 days to manifest. You might notice that the area is red and swollen. Lesions that are round and raised might be pus filled. The area might feel warm. Pain, headache, fever, exhaustion and poor appetite are also signs of cat-scratch disease.

If a cat licked, scratched or bit you, it is critical that you wash the area immediately. If you develop cat-scratch disease as a result of those actions, you might opt to seek compensation from the cat’s owner. While compensation won’t take away the pain of the infection, it can help to cover the costs of the medical care you will need to treat the disease.

Source: United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Cat-Scratch Disease,” accessed Dec. 16, 2015