Cat scratch disease, also called cat scratch fever, is an infection caused by bacteria called Bartonella henselae. The board-certified, fellowship-trained pediatric infectious disease specialists with Norton Children’s Infectious Diseases, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, evaluate and treat Bartonella.
Cat scratch fever, also called cat scratch disease, is an infection that can happen after being bitten or scratched by a cat carrying Bartonella. Cat scratch fever usually happens after being scratched or bitten by a domestic or feral cat, especially a kitten. Cats are exposed to Bartonella through flea bites, fights with infected cats or blood transfusions. Cats can become ill after carrying Bartonella, but usually carry the bacteria without getting sick.
The best way to prevent cat scratch fever is to thoroughly clean any bite or scratch from a cat immediately after it happens. If your child gets bitten or scratched by a cat, let your child’s pediatrician know.
Other prevention methods can include:
Symptoms can develop one to three weeks after a scratch or bite. Children younger than age 15 are more likely to develop cat scratch fever. In the United States, cat scratch fever is more common during the fall and winter.
The most common symptoms of cat scratch fever can include:
Rarely, a child may have more severe symptoms such as:
Cat scratch fever, or cat scratch disease, rarely is serious and usually can go away on its own without treatment. Once a child has the condition, they are unlikely to get it again. The pediatric infectious disease specialists with Norton Children’s Infectious Diseases can create a treatment plan for a child based on their age, medical history and current health. Treatments may include: