Rare Disease: Cat scratch Fever

As a mother watches her young daughter play with the new family kitten, Fluffy, the mother is unaware that the scratch on the little girl’s arm from the kitten could result in Cat scratch Fever. Not many people know about this disease as it only effects about 9 in 100,000 people. Children are most at risk because of their interactions with cats and kittens. Children who tend to play a little rough with the animals are most at risk, because it comes from the lick, bite, or scratch of a kitten, or cat.

The disease is from bartonella henselae bacteria usually found in fleas.


The first signs that most notice at first are the swollen lymph nodes under the armpit or on the side of the neck. Fever, headaches, joint and muscle pains usually happen in about 50%. Decreased appetite is another possible symptom. A small lesion resembling a pimple will form at the site of the scratch or bite. Lymph nodes can stay swollen for several months even after treatment.


A simply blood test is taken to see if the child has the disease. Not much can be done for it. You just simply have to ride it out. Sometimes an antibiotic is needed such as Zithromax. Warm compresses can be applied to swollen lymph nodes.


Since the disease is a bacteria from fleas to cats, flea control is the most important step to take in preventing the disease from occuring. Make sure that young children stay away from strays or from cats that have a lot of fleas. To prevent a cat bite or scratch, discourage the child from playing rough with it. Tell he/she to not provoke that cat. If it does occur, then was the area with warm water and soap.

My sister had Cat Scratch Fever when she was really young, and she had to have surgery because it became so infected. With proper treatment, this is very uncommon as the disease is uncommon itself.

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