Infection after a cat scratch is an infectious disease that causes swelling of the lymph nodes. It is not transmitted from person to person. Bartonella - a bacterium that is the causative agent of the disease, spreads through scratches or bites of an infected animal, usually a kitten. It can also be transmitted if the animal's saliva comes into contact with the damaged skin or eye. After suffering a cat scratch disease, a permanent lifelong immunity is formed.
Signs and symptoms of the disease
Most people with this disease and having contacts with kittens and cats do not remember that they were scratched and even more bitten.
The incubation period is from 3 to 20 days. The disease usually begins gradually. On the site of the healed cat's bite or scratch there appears a small, red-rimed, non-judicious speck, which after 2-3 days turns into a blister filled with cloudy contents. This blister is the entrance gate to infection, it is completely painless and most often occurs on the head or hands.
As a rule, within a few weeks after infection with cat scratch disease, one or more lymph nodes near the site of a scratch or bite increase in size and become painful. If, for example, a scratch on the arm, lymph nodes in the elbow area or under the armpit increase.
The enlargement of the lymph nodes is most often noted on the neck or in the axillary region, although if the foot is scratched, the lymph nodes will increase in the groin. Their sizes can vary from 1.5 to 5 cm in diameter. Skin over these lymph nodes can become red and warm, and sometimes pus breaks out of them.
In most people, swollen lymph nodes are the main symptom of the disease. Other symptoms of the disease may include fever (often up to 38.3 ° C), loss of appetite, fatigue, headache, sore throat, rash.
Atypical cases are noted, but rarely. In these cases, it is possible to damage the spleen, liver, lungs, joints, bones, prolonged fever without other manifestations. Some patients develop an infection of the eyes, including redness of the eyes and pain. It is extremely rare to have brain damage with seizures.
Diagnosis of cat scratch disease
Diagnosis of the disease should be carried out only by an infectious disease doctor, since lymph node enlargement occurs in other serious diseases. In the diagnosis, an important role is played by the history data (whether there was contact with the animal) and the detection of traumatic injuries caused by cats. The diagnosis is confirmed by data from culture, histology and serology, or PCR.
When to call a doctor
It is necessary to consult a doctor if there are painful lymph nodes or a tumor in any part of the body. And you should always consult a doctor if you are bitten by an animal, especially if:
- a scratch or bite was from the cat, while the wound does not heal for a long time;
- the site of reddening near the wound has been constantly expanding for several days;
- fever develops within a few days after receiving cat bites or scratches.
Treatment of the disease
When a cat scratch disease from antibacterial drugs is effective only gentamicin. Disease, as a rule, ends with spontaneous cure for 1-2 months. To reduce the soreness of the enlarged lymph node, sometimes puncture it with the removal of pus.
How to prevent disease
The places of cat scratches and bites should be treated with a solution of 2% hydrogen peroxide, and after alcohol or iodine. When one of the members of the family is infected, the cat is not treated - it is ineffective.