Cat scratch fever or cat scratch disease is an infection caused by bacteria known as bartonella henselae. Most people contract this illness by a bite or a scratch of cat. The disease occurs throughout the world and is more common in children than adults.
Bartonella H bacteria are found in saliva of cat. But it does not produce any disease in cats, the bacteria causes infection only in humans. Usually patient develops a small bump at the site after 3 to 5 days of a bite or scratch and later forms a crust.
Cat scratch fever is a mild self limiting illness and most patients do not need antibiotic treatment. In some immune compromised patients it may lead to complications such as meningitis, osteomyelitis, and hepatitis if not treated with antibiotics.
Cause Of Cat Scratch Fever In Humans
Cat scratch fever is caused by bartonella henselae bacteria present in saliva of cat. Fleas spread bartonella bacteria from one cat to another, but there is no certain evidence of fleas directly transmitting the disease to humans.
The disease has worldwide distribution. Children as well as adults can be infected with the bacteria, but usually it is more prevalent in children as they tend to come in close contact with cats. Cats, both domestic as well as wild cats can spread the disease.
Although the bacteria inhabit in cat’s saliva, they do not suffer from any illness. They just act as carrier of the disease. Anyone who interacts with cats can contract the illness, but people with low immunity are more susceptible to develop this condition.
Symptoms Of Cat Scratch Disease
A small bump will develop at the site of bite or a scratch within 3 to 5 days. This is the first sign of the condition. The bump at the site of bite later on forms a crust and resolves. The bump is usually found on hands, scalp, and head. Often the lesion is minor that the patient forgets it afterwards.
However one or two weeks later after the bite or scratch, the lymph node that drain in the area of bite become swollen and tender. For example if the bite has occurred on hand, the lymph nodes in armpit will become painful and swollen.
Lymphadenopathy is accompanied with mild fever, headache, body ache and malaise. Sometimes patient may also suffer from additional symptoms such as loss of appetite and sore throat.
Home Remedies For Cat Scratch Disease
Cat scratch fever is generally benign and self limiting disease. It means the illness resolves on its own. However, people with low immunity may require antibiotics to reduce the risk of complications which include meningitis, osteomyelitis and hepatitis.
There are some home remedies that can help to reduce pain and swelling. Take a pinch of sea salt and baking soda. Add both the ingredients in warm water and mix well until they dissolve. Drink this water one or two times in a day. It helps the body to flush out toxins and subsequently enables lymph nodes to function efficiently reducing pain and swelling.
Take one teaspoon of coconut oil. Massage the affected lymph node gently with this oil. Massage stimulates the circulation of lymph and reduces pain and inflammation. Massage only for few minutes.
Honey is another effective home remedy for treating lymph node inflammation and pain caused in this disease. Mix 1 teaspoon of honey and few drops of lemon juice in a glass of water. Drink it once in a day. The anti inflammatory properties of honey help to reduce swelling and pain.