Cat Scratch Disease Part 2: Infection in People

We discussed  cat scratch disease in cats  in the first part of this series and we are now turning out attention to the disease in humans.

Cat Getting Vaccinated


As you may recall, Cat Scratch Disease is caused by infection with an organism called Bartonella. Most  humans who contract Bartonella infections have some history of exposure to cats.  Similarly to cats, humans with cat scratch disease show a range of symptoms including: bumps (papules) or blisters (pustules) of the skin at the site of injury, fatigue, headache, lethargy, fever, and swollen lymph nodes.


Most people with normal immune systems will fully recover from cat scratch disease in 6-12 weeks, even without treatment. Those with a compromised immune system may have a harder time, but an easier recovery is still expected with antibiotic treatment. Those suffering from cancer, AIDS, or those with more extremely suppressed immune systems will have a more difficult time overcoming the disease and antibiotic treatment will likely be recommended.

In general, cat scratch disease should not go untreated, as it has more recently been linked to rheumatoid illnesses in humans, such as rheumatoid arthritis. If you believe that you or a loved one may be infected, seek the help of your physician for diagnoses. Be sure to take the steps outlined in part one of this series to help prevent cat scratch disease in the first place.

More Information

For more information on cat scratch disease in people, check these links out:

U.S. National Library of Medicine

Center for Disease Control

Video by Nabil A. Ebraheim, M.D.

If you would like more information on Cat Scratch Disease, please contact Dr. Sue Chastain at Preston Road Animal Hospital of Dallas by calling (972) 239-1309 or at Meadow Brook Animal Hospital of McKinney by calling (972) 529-5033.

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