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Cat Scratch Disease


Cat-scratch disease (CSD) is an infection caused by bacteria 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 then scratches or bites human skin.


Seek care immediately if:

  • You have severe pain in your stomach, muscles, bones, or joints.
  • You have severe pain in the lymph nodes in your neck, armpit, or groin.
  • You have seizures, headaches, or cannot think clearly.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever, sore throat, or headache.
  • You notice swelling in your neck, armpit, or groin.
  • You have stomach, muscle, or joint pain.
  • You have a skin rash, itching, or swelling after you take your medicine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Medicines may be given to help treat a bacterial infection or decrease pain, fever, and swelling.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

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

Prevent CSD:

  • 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 affected area with clean water and soap right away.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 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 IBM Watson Health

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Cat Scratch Disease (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex