Cat scratch disease is caused by an organism called Rochalimaea henselae. This is a gram-negative bacteria and a member of the Rickettsia family. Each year approximately 22,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Cat Scratch Disease. The disease causes a severe necrotizing inflammation of the lymph nodes and can result in considerable morbidity.
Studies have determined that the cat flea “ctenocephalides felis” carries the bacteria Rochalimae henselae, which is responsible for causing Cat Scratch Disease. (NOTE: The cat flea also infects dogs and may be referred to as the dog flea.)
Antibiotic therapy (doxycycline or erythromycin) for up to 3 months usually clears the infection in people without immune compromise. Individuals with defective immune systems, i.e. HIV positive, the disease may or may not respond to therapy.
With 57 million cats living in over one third of
United States households, the potential for infection is vast. Proper flea control in cats, and particularly in kittens, will reduce the number of fleas as well as the potential risk of transmitting this disease (X REFERENCE “FLEAS”).
Teach your cat not to scratch or bite you. Provide a scratching post.