Ever heard of bartonellosis? If not, you’re sure to have heard of cat scratch disease, which is simply another name for bartonellosis. This disease is caused by a bacterium called Bartonella henselae and usually affects cats. It is a zoonotic disease, which means that it can be transmitted by infected animals.
Here’s everything about bartonellosis that you should probably get yourself acquainted with.
Bartonellosis: Transmission, Symptoms, Treatment, And Prevention
How Does Bartonellosis Get Transmitted?
Bartonella bacteria are usually present in ticks and the feces of fleas, which cats are constantly exposed to. When cats lick themselves while grooming, they ingest the feces and get infected by the bacteria. They may also accumulate the flea dirt under their nails and between their teeth or be exposed to them when they get bitten by fleas or ticks. Any contact with stray cats is also likely to increase the chances of infection.
Humans normally acquire the disease when infected cats lick any open wounds they have or when infected cats scratch or bite them enough to break the skin surface.1
What Are The Symptoms Of Infection?
When cats are infected by Bartonella bacteria, they show absolutely no symptoms and are, most often, just carriers.2
In very rare cases, this disease results in the inflammation of the hearts of cats. It may also cause inflammation in other regions like the mouth and eyes.3
In humans, the most common symptom is the appearance of bumps or blisters in the area of infection. The lymph nodes at the site of infection also tend to swell up. Some people may also get a mild fever or a headache and experience fatigue. A sore throat, loss of appetite, and weight loss are less common symptoms.4
In very rare cases, humans may also experience serious complications in the brain, heart, and other internal organs. However, these rare complications are likely to occur in very young children – below the age of 5 years – and people with weakened immune systems like those with HIV.5
How Can The Disease Be Treated?
Bartonellosis often isn’t serious and doesn’t require medical treatment in cats.
Most often, no treatment is required in people too. In humans who have painful blisters and bumps, doctors may recommend draining the pus. A course of antibiotics usually does the trick in serious cases and people who have weak immune systems.
How Can You Prevent The Disease?
These simple steps will lower the chances of infection in both cats and humans.
- Keep fleas away by administering flea medication to your cat either orally or by topically applying it. Consult with a veterinarian before giving any sort of medication to your cat.
- Comb your cat’s fur often using a flea comb to get rid of flea dirt and ticks.
- Trim your cat’s nails often.
- Vacuum often to get rid of fleas and ticks in your home.
- It’s always best to keep your cat indoors to avoid contact with fleas and stray cats.
- See your veterinarian often to rule out any possible infections.
- Always remember to wash your hands with soap whenever you play with your cat.
- In case of cat bites or scratches, wash immediately with soap and water.
- Those with weak immune systems should avoid getting cats that are less than a year old.
Now that you know everything important about bartonellosis, do whatever you can from your end to keep your pet and yourself safe from it.
|↑1, ↑3||Cat-Scratch Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑2||Breitschwerdt, Edward B., Ricardo G. Maggi, Bruno B. Chomel, and Michael R. Lappin. “Bartonellosis: an emerging infectious disease of zoonotic importance to animals and human beings.” Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care 20, no. 1 (2010): 8-30.|
|↑4||Cat-scratch disease. MedlinePlus.|
|↑5||Maguiña, Ciro, Humberto Guerra, and Palmira Ventosilla. “Bartonellosis.” Clinics in dermatology 27, no. 3 (2009): 271-280.|