My name is Darian…and I have cat-scratch fever. I am typing this article at 15 words per minute, which is significantly slower than my usual 70wpm. I decided to write this article in order to promote awareness of this animal-transmitted bacterial infection.
My left hand is swollen, painful and red due to three large puncture wounds and my right hand has an IV needle stuck into it.
I am cat-sitting for a friend and I have to admit that I know very little about cats. So when this ” tom-cat” ran out my front door and decided to visit the neighbour’s friendly little feline, I thought nothing of tracking him down and scooping him up in my arms. That’s when the fangs of a feline scorned, sunk deep into my hand.
Cats carry a bacteria called Bartonella, and they are able to transmit it to humans through scratches or bites. The bacteria is usually present in cats which have had fleas and normally in younger cats.
Symptoms include pain, itching, redness, swelling of the wound and of the lymph nodes.
The treatment of cat-scratch fever may include a tetanus shot. Anti-biotics are required in order to ensure that the infection does not spread. Oral anti-biotics may be all that is necessary; however if the redness appears to spread or increase, an intra-venous anti-biotic may be administered. Treatment must be continued until signs of infection disappear.
For the elderly or people with compromised immune systems, cat-scratch fever, in it’s most severe form, can actually lead to amputation. This is only the case in severe cases which involve a bite to the joint or tendon and in which the infection is not treated and results in tissue damage.
My experience with cat-scratch fever has left me with mixed feelings. I love all animals and I will continue to care for this furry little saboteur for as long as he needs me. However part of my care will be a proactive approach to preventing a re-occurrence. I will handle him with caution and will remember that no matter how soft he feels and loud he purrs, there are times, such as when he is pursuing a mate, when he is unpredictable and aggressive. Cat owners should always ensure that their pets are neutered to control aggression, have good flea control, clipped claws, and are regularly vaccinated. We may not be able to control the behaviour of cats at all times, but we can control the effects of their actions through proper medical care.