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Cat Scratch Disease

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What is cat-scratch disease (CSD)?

CSD is caused by a bacteria that lives 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. CSD can also be spread if you rub your eyes after you hold an infected cat.

What are the signs and symptoms of CSD?

You may see painless blisters or bumps along your wound 3 to 10 days after you have been bitten or scratched. Lymph nodes near the wound may become red, swollen, and painful 1 to 3 weeks later. These often include lymph nodes in your neck, armpit, and groin. You may also have loss of appetite, rash, sore throat, headache, fever, and muscle, joint, or stomach pain.

How is CSD diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and examine the injured area. Tell him if you had any contact with a cat. You may need any of the following tests:

How is CSD treated?

CSD may go away in 2 to 4 months without treatment. You may need any of the following:

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

What can I do to prevent CSD?

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my doctor?

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 healthcare providers 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.

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Further information

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