Cat scratch disease is a bacterial infection spread by cats. Cat scratch disease occurs when cats bite or scratch to cause wounds, or when cats lick open wounds on human skin.
Cat scratch disease is classified as a zoonotic disease , which is an infectious disease that is transmitted from animals to humans. However, cat scratch disease cannot be transmitted between humans.
In healthy people, paint scratch disease can heal on its own within 2-4 weeks. However, people with a weak immune system, such as those with HIV/AIDS or autoimmune diseases, are at risk of experiencing serious complications from cat scratch disease .
Causes of Paint Scratch Disease
Paint scratch disease is caused by Bartonella henselae bacterial infection. This bacteria can live and grow in the cat's claws and mouth. Therefore, a person who is bitten or scratched by a cat infected with bacteria can be affected by cat scratch disease.
In addition to bites or scratches, cats can also transmit bacteria by licking open wounds on human skin. In rare cases, cat fleas that have been infected with Bartonella henselae bacteria can also transmit cat scratch disease to humans.
Risk factors for paint scratch disease
There are several factors that can increase a person's risk of suffering from cat scratch disease, namely:
- Caring for cats, especially small cats that play more actively
- Not cleaning cat scratches or bites immediately
- Allowing the cat to lick open wounds on the skin
- Does not exterminate cat fleas
In addition to the above factors, paint scratch disease is also more prone to occur in people with weak immunity, such as pregnant women, cancer patients , diabetes, HIV/AIDS , or patients undergoing organ transplantation.
Symptoms of Paint Scratch Disease
Cats infected with Bartonella henselae bacteria are generally asymptomatic and do not get sick. Even so, B. henselae bacteria can live in the cat's body for several months. As a result, it is difficult to know whether the cat is infected or not.
Unlike cats, a person infected with Bartonella henselae bacteria will show symptoms 3-10 days after being scratched or bitten. Some of the symptoms that usually appear are:
- Mild fever
- Lumps or sores on the skin affected by bites or scratches
- Swollen lymph nodes near the bite or scratch area
- Body aches
In addition to the above symptoms, sufferers can also experience other complaints, such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Sore throat
If the condition worsens, sufferers may also experience the following symptoms:
- Stomach pain
- Back pain
- Joint pain
- A red rash on the skin
- Prolonged fever
When should you go to the doctor?
Check with a doctor if you experience the symptoms mentioned above, especially if symptoms appear after being bitten or scratched by a cat, as well as treating cats at home or at work.
Go to the doctor immediately if the symptoms you experience indicate that the infection has spread to other organs. Some of the signs are:
- High fever
- Severe headache
- Chest pain
- Severe stomach ache
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea and vomiting
Diagnosis of Paint Scratch Disease
To diagnose cat scratch disease , the doctor will ask questions related to the symptoms experienced, health history, and history of direct contact of the patient with cats.
After that, the doctor will perform a physical examination, especially on the area affected by cat scratches or bites, as well as check if there is swelling of the lymph nodes.
Next, the doctor will perform a supporting examination to confirm the diagnosis, including:
- Blood test , to detect the presence of antibodies that fight infection
- Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, to find out the presence of bacteria in the blood
- Lymph node biopsy , to identify Bartonella henselae bacteria by taking lymph node samples
Treatment of Paint Scratch Disease
The treatment of cat scratch disease is adapted to the patient's health condition and the level of severity. In patients with normal immunity, cat scratch disease can generally heal on its own. However, the doctor can give painkillers, such as ibuprofen , to relieve pain and swelling.
While in patients with weak immunity, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics , such as azithromycin . This drug can overcome bacteria and prevent the infection from spreading to other organs of the body.
In addition to medicines, the doctor can recommend the patient to compress the area that is experiencing swelling in order to subside. If the swelling is very painful and getting bigger, the doctor can perform a small operation to remove the fluid inside.
Complications of Paint Scratch Disease
Although very rare, paint scratch disease can cause serious complications, especially in people with weak immunity. Some of the complications are:
- Damage to the retinal nerve of the eye
- Oculoglandular Parinaud syndrome, which is inflammation of the eye accompanied by swelling of the lymph nodes
- Swelling of the liver and spleen (hepatosplenomegaly)
- Inflammation of the heart valve ( endocarditis )
Prevention of Paint Scratch Disease
Paint scratch disease can be prevented by making the following efforts:
- Avoid cat bites or scratches.
- Wash your hands with soap and running water after playing with the cat.
- Do not let the cat lick the wound on your skin.
- Treat your cat well, such as clipping her nails regularly.
- Routinely use anti-flea products to repel fleas on cats
- Do not keep and actively play with wild cats.