User Tools

Site Tools


Cat Scratch Fever

Ok, I can see the raised eyebrows now. What in the world is a page on cat scratch fever doing on a lymphedema website?

I have included cat scratch fever in the list of types of infections because of the number of cats people have as pets and because this infection seriously effects the lymph nodes. Lymphedema patients ar particularly susceptible due to the localized immunodeficiency of the lymphedematous limb.

Once, I returned home from work to find someone had dumped three little kittens on my porch. Well, you know how irresistible little kitties are and I started playing with them and got scratched..

The next day I was carried to the hospital and was there for two weeks on antibiotic IV therapy.

Cat scratch fever is an infection that actually may be caused by either a virus or a bacteria. It results from either the bite or scratch of a cat that my otherwise look healthy. They are simply carriers of the virus/bacteria. The first signs are swelling and bumps filled with pus near the scratch. Lymph nodes in the neck, head and groin, o armpits begin swelling with two weeks. The symptoms can last for months

Other symptoms include

  • Bump (papule) or blister (pustule) at site of injury (usually the first sign)
  • Lymph node swelling near the scratch or bite
  • Fever (in some patients)
  • Fatigue
  • Overall discomfort (malaise)
  • Headache

And occasionally

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Sore throat

Incidentally, there was also an article published in 1964 in the New England Journal of Medicine indicating a patient came down with secondary lymphedema AFTER an infection of cat-scratch fever. Unfortunately, the article itself is no longer available, but it is a clear indication of the possible effects of CSF.

  • Cat-Scratch-Oculoglandular Syndrome
  • Parinaud's Syndrome
  • Cat-Scratch Adenitis
  • Cat-Scratch Fever
  • Debre's Syndrome
  • Foshay-Mollaret Cat-Scratch Fever
  • Regional Nonbacterial
  • Petzetakis' Syndrome


Cat Scratch Disease (Fever)

(Bartonella henselae Infection)

What is cat scratch disease?

Cat scratch disease (CSD) is a bacterial disease caused by Bartonella henselae. Most people with CSD have been bitten or scratched by a cat and developed a mild infection at the point of injury. Lymph nodes, especially those around the head, neck, and upper limbs, become swollen. Additionally, a person with CSD may experience fever, headache, fatigue, and a poor appetite. Rare complications of B. henselae infection are bacillary angiomatosis and Parinaud's oculolandular syndrome.

Can my cat transmit Bartonella henselae to me?

Sometimes, yes, cats can spread B. henselae to people. Most people get CSD from cat bites and scratches. Kittens are more likely to be infected and to pass the bacterium to people. About 40% of cats carry B. henselae at some time in their lives. Cats that carry B. henselae do not show any signs of illness; therefore, you cannot tell which cats can spread the disease to you. People with immunocompromised conditions, such as those undergoing immunosuppressive treatments for cancer, organ transplant patients, and people with HIV/AIDS, are more likely than others to have complications of CSD. Although B. henselae has been found in fleas, so far there is no evidence that a bite from an infected flea can give you CSD.

How can I reduce my risk of getting cat scratch disease from my cat?

  • Avoid “rough play” with cats, especially kittens. This includes any activity that may lead to cat scratches and bites.
  • Wash cat bites and scratches immediately and thoroughly with running water and soap.
  • Do not allow cats to lick open wounds that you may have.
  • Control fleas.

If you develop an infection (with pus and pronounced swelling) where you were scratched or bitten by a cat or develop symptoms, including fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue, contact your physician.

How can I find more information about cat scratch disease?

Cat-Scratch Disease in Children—Texas, September 2000–August 2001. Morbitity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Unraveling Mysteries Associated with Cat-Scratch Disease, Bacillary Angiomatosis, and Related Syndromes. Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal. January-March 1995, Volume 1, Number 1.

Epidemiologic Notes and Reports Encephalitis Associated with Cat Scratch Disease – Broward and Palm Beach Counties, Florida, 1994 . Morbitity and Mortality Weekly Report. December 16, 1994 / 43(49);909,915-916.

CDC Information Page

Cat-scratch Disease (lymphoreticulosis)

Lymphoreticulosis Symptoms.


Extractions: Cat-scratch disease (benign lymphoreticulosis) – infectious disease associated with a history of scratches, bites from or close contact with a cat. The infecting agent is Bartonella henselae a tiny bacillus of familia Chlamydiae. The host and the source of infection are cats, with the infection agent being a normal part of their mouth flora. Person-to-person transmission of the disease has not been shown. The infection enters through skin wounds causing inflammation. Carried by lymph the infection reaches the nearest lymph node causing its inflammation too. Further the infection spreads with the bloodstream over the system. After convalescence the body develops persistent immunity to the disease. Treating cat-scratch disease (lymphoreticulosis). Symptoms of cat-scratch disease . Incubation period lasts from 3 to 20 days. A small, slightly elevated stain, slightly painful with a red rim appears in the place of the healed scratch or bite, turning in 2-3 days into a vesicle filled with a turbid content. The vesicle is then replaced by a small ulceration or crust. In several days after the scratch was inflicted the nearest lymph node gets enlarged. At this time the patient may complain of a headache, malaise, temperature. In some cases temperature may rise to 38-39 C and be associated with morning-night fluctuations and sweating, though in 7-10 days the temperature drops back to normal or slightly above. Sometimes the fever becomes tidal. Rarely high temperature may persist for 5-6 months and longer. Sometimes the disease progresses without temperature rise. The affected lymph node after reaching its maximum slowly diminishes, seldom purulent maturations end up with spontaneous opening and pus discharge.


External Links

Cat Scratch Neuroretinitis: The Role of Acute and Convalescent Titers for Diagnosis.

Sept 2011


A Serological Investigation of Bartonella henselae Infection in Cats in Turkey.

Jul 2011


Optic neuropathy and cat scratch disease

Apr 2011


Vertebral Osteomyelitis: An Unusual Presentation of Bartonella henselae Infection.

Aug 2011


Cat Scratch Disease


Cat Scratch Fever

TKH Bacteriology - Tara K. Harper

Tara K.

Catscratch Disease

Cat Scratch Disease


Genetic diversity of Bartonella henselae in human infection detected with multispacer typing.

Multispacer typing to study the genotypic distribution of Bartonella henselae populations

Improved culture from lymph nodes of patients with cat scratch disease and genotypic characterization of Bartonella henselae isolates in Australia.

Diagnostic Images


ICD Codes

ICD-10 - A28.1

ICD-9 - 078.3

Lymphedema People Internal Links

Lymphedema People Resources

cat_scratch_fever.txt · Last modified: 2012/10/16 14:40 (external edit)