Nathalie Smith, MSN, RN
Cat scratch fever is a bacterial infection you can get from being scratched or bitten by a cat, kitten, or sometimes a dog. This usually goes away without treatment, but it can become a serious condition that requires care from your doctor.
The bacteria that cause cat scratch fever are found in fleas. They are passed on to cats through flea bites. They are passed on to humans through a cat scratch or bite.
The most common risk factor is being bitten or scratched by a cat or kitten.
Cat scratch fever may cause:
Some people may develop complications, such as a very high fever or
pneumonia. Severe cases have caused infections of the brain ( encephalitis), hepatitis, and even death.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. If you remember that you were bitten or scratched by a cat, your doctor may be able to diagnose the disease based your symptoms. Your doctor may want a blood test if the diagnosis is not clear.
Cat-scratch fever usually clears up without treatment. Talk with your doctor about the best
for you. Treatment options include:
To reduce your chance of cat scratch fever:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Winn Feline Foundation
Canadian Veterinary Medical Association
Cat scratch disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/diseases/cat-scratch.html. Updated June 23, 2011. Accessed December 31, 2012.
Cat-scratch disease. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115241/Cat-scratch-disease. Updated September 23, 2015. Accessed September 29, 2016.
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Last reviewed November 2015 by
David L. Horn, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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