It’s Always Something

2 07 2012

My daughter is volunteering with the local animal shelter this summer. Her job is to play with dozens of resident kittens and brush any that will hold still for it.

For my part, a feeling of pride (hey, it is a volunteer position) is followed closely by faint stirrings of concern. What about cat scratch disease, I fret wonder?

At some point in their lives, 40 percent of cats will carry B. henselae, the bacterium that causes cat scratch disease (CSD). And it’s usually kittens who are the bacteria-carrying culprits.

The bacteria are passed along to a human through a kitten’s scratch or bite, or when a kitten licks a person’s open wound. Although cat fleas can carry the disease from cat to cat, it’s unknown if the fleas transmit the disease to humans.

CSD is usually a mild infection, but it can get nasty and be the cause of serious conditions, including “lymphoma, carcinoma, mycobacterial or fungal infection, or neuroblastoma.”


I told her to wear long sleeves and to wash with soap and water any scratch or bite she sustains. She’s also to cover any open wounds before she goes through the kitten room door.

As parents, we can either put our kids in protective bubbles, or embrace the Roseanne Roseannadanna in each of us and say: It’s always something.

By Trish Parnell



One response

25 10 2013
Kristen M.

Cat bites are also a concern. I had a serious bite on my hand from one of my cats when I tried to break up a fight with a newer cat. (silly me!) The bite itself was deep, swollen, and painful for a week. About 3-6 months later I had painful axillary lymph swelling which persisted several more months. After a mammogram and ultrasound (which revealed “huge” lymph nodes in my armpit) I was asked if I’d been scratched or bitten by a cat. Oh yeah, that was a while back. They concluded that was the cause, and the lymphedema subsided within a year. I did have the blood test (Bartonella henselae IFA test) and it was negative, but I was told a negative result doesn’t necessarily rule out the infection. Just FYI 🙂

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