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Is Your Cat the Cause of Your Sore Throat?

Tim Boyer's picture
Nearly 30-40% of cats infected with cat-scratch fever

Do you have a nagging cough that is out of the norm for you and doesn’t seem to be the result of a cold or flu? Experts warn that your cat could be the cause of your sore throat and other aches and pains.


A CBS News report tells us that the CDC is warning pet owners that their Tabby may be a potential cause of their getting sick. The reason why? A bacterium called Bartonella henselae known as the cause of cat-scratch disease (or cat scratch fever) resides in approximately 35-40% of all cats and is transmissible to humans through even a tiny scratch or bite.

Cats become infected with the bacterium from flea bites and flea fecal matter that gets deposited into their flea-bite wounds. By scratching and biting at the fleas and the wounds, the cats pick up the infected flea poop under their nails and between their teeth, and then pass it onto other cats or their owners.

Here’s a YouTube Video of one woman who had what appeared to be only a simple sore throat but turned out to be cat-scratch disease.

Are you at risk of becoming the stereotypical crazy cat-lady, here’s how cats in your house indicate your mental health.

However, cat-scratch disease can easily become something more serious than a sore throat. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that while symptoms can range from headache to fever to swollen lymph nodes, in rare instances, the disease can also lead to life-threatening complications involving the brain or heart.

“Cat-scratch disease, while rare, still causes a significant number of annual infections, some of which can lead to encephalitis [brain inflammation] as well as endocarditis [heart inflammation], two potentially deadly conditions,” Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

According to the report released by the CDC:

“Cat-scratch disease (CSD) is a bacterial infection spread by cats. The disease spreads when an infected cat licks a person's open wound, or bites or scratches a person hard enough to break the surface of the skin. About three to 14 days after the skin is broken, a mild infection can occur at the site of the scratch or bite. The infected area may appear swollen and red with round, raised lesions and can have pus. The infection can feel warm or painful. A person with CSD may also have a fever, headache, poor appetite, and exhaustion. Later, the person's lymph nodes closest to the original scratch or bite can become swollen, tender, or painful.”

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In the report, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that each year, about 12,000 people are diagnosed with the illness with 500 requiring hospitalization.

What To Do About Cat-Scratch Disease

Prevention is the best medicine as the CDC recommends that after playing or handling your cat to make it a habit to wash your hands immediately with soap and water. Furthermore, since fleas are the transmitter of the disease you may want to consider an occasional flea bath for your next pet’s grooming—especially if you notice your cat doing some excessive scratching and licking on its body.

If you do become bit or scratched by a cat, wash the affected area immediately and keep an eye out for any sign of swelling or redness near the bite mark. Also be vigilant for any symptoms such as fever, headache, poor appetite, exhaustion, and/or swollen, tender lymph nodes. If you suspect an infection, treatment is only a doctor’s visit away for some antibiotics and a quick recovery.

For more about how to protect yourself from your pet cat, here are selected articles where cats can become killers:

Is Your Cat Killing Your Family?

Why a Cat in the House May Cause Depression and Suicide

Reference: CBS News “Kitten lovers beware: CDC warns of cat-scratch disease risk

Image courtesy of Pixabay