June 20, 2011
Cat scratch disease is a bacterial infection that causes the swelling of lymph nodes, due to a scratch, lick, or bite of a cat. Forty percent of cats carry the bacteria in their saliva at some point in time in their lives. Cats that carry the disease usually do not show any signs of illness. Most people contract the disease after being scratched or bitten. More than 90% of people who contract it had contact with cats or kittens. People who have a normal immune system the disease is not a serious illness. Bartonella henselae is the bacterium that causes cat scratch disease Bartonella henselae is a small gram negative- bacillus. It is an aerobic organism ~1µm in length and ~ 0.5 µm in diameter, that occasionally takes a slightly curved shape. It makes small jerking movements in the fresh state, but has no whips.1 Optimal growing conditions are blood (5%), moist atmosphere with a rich CO2 count, and temperature at 35º C. A small papule, a little raised lump, develops at the site of injury within 10 days. Other signs and symptoms include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and inflammation and soreness of the lymph nodes. The disease is more serious in people with an impaired immune system such as HIV/AIDS or chemotherapy from cancer. In AIDS patients the infection can lead to abnormal growth of blood vessels that form tumor-like masses, called Bacillary angiomatosis. This can cause severe inflammation of multiple organs including the brain, spleen, liver, lungs and bone marrow. If the infection is left untreated it can be fatal in people with HIV/AIDS. In the case that one begins to experience these symptoms they should call their doctor immediately. A full proof way of preventing cats scratch disease is to avoid situations in which you might be bitten or scratched by a cat. Also do not play with rough with a cat, or allow a cat to lick open sores or scratches on your skin. In...