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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Cat scratch disease

Other Names for this Disease
  • Bartonellosis due to Bartonella henselae infection
  • Cat scratch fever
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Your Question

What are the symptoms of cat scratch disease?

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What is cat scratch disease?

Cat scratch disease is an infectious illness caused by the bacteria bartonella. It is believed to be transmitted by cat scratches, bites, or exposure to cat saliva.[1] This self-limiting infectious disease is characterized by swelling and pain in the lymph nodes. Although cat-scratch disease usually subsides without treatment, antibiotic and/or antimicrobial therapy may speed recovery.[2]
Last updated: 3/4/2009

What are the symptoms of cat scratch disease?

Most people with cat scratch disease have been bitten or scratched by a cat and developed a mild infection at the point of injury. Lymph nodes, especially those around the head, neck, and upper limbs, become swollen.[3] Additionally, a person with cat scratch disease may experience fever, headache, fatigue, achiness and discomfort (malaise), sore throat, enlarged spleen, and/or loss of appetite.[1][2][3]
Last updated: 3/4/2009

What complications may be associated with cat scratch disease?

Rare complications of Bartonella henselae infection may include bacillary angiomatosisencephalopathy, neuroretinitis, osteomyelitis, and Parinaud's oculolandular syndrome.[1][3] People with immunocompromised conditions, such as those undergoing immunosuppressive treatments for cancer, organ transplant patients, and people with HIV/AIDS, are more likely than others to have complications of cat scratch disease.[3]
Last updated: 3/4/2009