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Cat Scratch Disease, Ambulatory Care

Cat scratch disease (CSD)

is caused by bacteria that live in a cat's mouth. You can get CSD by being scratched, licked, or bitten by an infected cat. The germs usually spread after the cat licks its paws and then scratches or bites human skin. CSD can also be spread if you rub your eyes after you hold an infected cat. Symptoms may go away in 2 to 4 months without treatment.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Painless blisters or bumps along your wound 3 to 10 days after you have been bitten or scratched
  • Red, swollen, and painful lymph nodes near the wound, such as in your neck, armpit, and groin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rash, sore throat, headache, or fever
  • Muscle, joint, or stomach pain

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain in your stomach, muscles, bones, or joints
  • Severe pain in the lymph nodes in your neck, armpit, or groin
  • Seizures, headaches, or trouble thinking clearly

Treatment for cat scratch disease

may include any of the following:

  • Medicines help treat bacterial infection or decrease pain, fever, and swelling.
  • Incision and drainage may be used to drain fluid or pus from your lymph nodes.
  • Surgery may be used to remove all or part of your affected lymph nodes.

Prevent cat scratch disease:

  • Always wash your hands after you handle or pet a cat.
  • Have your cat treated for fleas. Fleas can spread the germ from cat to cat.
  • Do not allow your cat to lick an open wound on your skin.
  • Take care when you play with cats to avoid bites or scratches. Avoid rough play.
  • If you get scratched, licked, or bitten by a cat, wash the area with clean water and soap right away.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.