Find out what disease can you get from cat scratch and their treatment

Cat scratch disease is due to the bite of cat. Infection from cat scratches is dangerous if it is left untreated and In cat bite 50% of the patients will need surgery.

Posted by Rukhma Khalid on June 01, 2023

Cat bite and cat scratch disease:

Cat scratch disease sometimes it's called cat scratch fever. Cat scratchy disease is an infection that’s transmitting by a cat's scratch. Cat scratchy disease first begins with a scratch and within one week there is the development of skin lesion in about 50 of the patients. The lesion is small less than one centimeter.

It is normally a benign self-limiting illness lasting for about 6 to 12 weeks and it is cause by exposure to Bartonella Henselae bacteria. So after some weeks there will be noticeably enlarge lymph nodes. So, the swollen lymph nodes with no other etiology and scratch from being in contact with a cat could suggest the presence of a cat scratch disease.

Cat scratch skin infection

What are the Sign and symptoms of cat scratch fever?

Cat scratch disease symptoms in adults are self-limiting and can vary from mild to severe lasting for several weeks. The patient may have include:

  • Swollen or draining lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Swollen tender or hard lymph nodes could confuse with soft tissue tumor
  • Regional lymphadenopathy is a main clinical feature. It is a sudden tumor and should be considered in the differential diagnosis of soft tissue lesions.

These areas of lymph node concentration include:

  • Cervical lymph nodes
  • Cervical lymph nodes
  • Axillary lymph nodes
  • Cubital lymph nodes around the elbow it's called epitrochlear lymph nodes and Inguinal nodes around the hip
Cat scratch bite infection

Reasons of cat scratch infection:

Infection can be due to:

  • Delayed treatment for more than 12 hours
  • Older age
  • Puncture wound
  • Host conditions such as diabetes or immunosuppressed patient

Cats bite Vs dog bite:

Both cat bite and cat stretch disease are cause by cats, but are two different entities. The cat fight will cause infection in about 30 to 50 percent of cases. While the dog bite will cause infection in about two to 5% of cases. So, there are more dog bites than cat bites. Females are bitten more by cats and males are bitten more by dogs. Animal bites are common in children. Dog bites usually affect the upper extremity more than the lower extremity and there is always a delayed presentation.

Infection from cat scratches:

The cat bites have a higher rate of infection more than dog bites because the cat has small sharp needle-like teeth that can puncture and cause deep wounds. Their teeth can penetrate the bones, the joints and the tendon sheath especially the flexible tendon sheath. So, the punctured wounds sometimes seal up immediately and become unnoticed or underestimated and can cause septic arthritis, tenosynovitis and can also cause osteomyelitis. However, it may take longer to initiate treatment in cat bites.

Which is the common bacteria in cat bite?

The most common bacteria isolated from cat bites are Pasturella and the culture takes about one week to grow the infection in cat bites. Pasturella is present in about 80 percent of cat bites. The pasturella causes severe pain and the swelling in 48 hours.

Diagnosis for the cat scratches infection:

The physician should check for elevated sedimentation rate to find out the inflammation and also check CRP. Another thing is a positive skin test for cat scratch disease. It is also important for establishing the diagnosis.

Treatment of cat scratches

Cat scratches treatment:

If the patient is diagnose early with the Catch scratch fever treatment then follow these instructions to avoid any infection.

  • Do irrigation in the emergency room if needed
  • Give tetanus toxoid vaccine
  • Splint
  • Provide local wound care and observation
  • The patient will need surgery for incision, drainage and cleaning the wound
  • Give antibiotics in cat bites especially if injury to the hand, to the face or the injury is severe or deep down to the bone. Give the antibiotics for three to five days.
  • In cat bite 50% of the patients will need surgery

If the treatment is delay the patient may have infection such as abscess, septic arthritis, tenosynovitis or osteomyelitis.

Antibiotics for the Cat scratch fever bumps:

Antibiotics for cat scratch fever treatment for humans includes:

  • Doxycycline
  • Cipro
  • Azithromycin
  • Augmentin in the antibiotic that's commonly use for cat bites. Augmentin should cover all cat bites regardless of the wound size.