A cat bite – is it a serious threat to health?


Benign lymphoreticulosis or cat bite or scratch disease is a syndrome characterized by the formation of red tender papules or pustules at the site , where a domestic cat has scratched, licked or bitten you superficially.

But after the appearance of this rash, the syndrome progresses and after about 1-3 weeks, the lymph nodes around the affected area become swollen. A significant percentage of affected patients develop hypothermia.

Some scientists suggest that cat fleas can transmit the disease under certain circumstances, for example when you rub the cat with your hands, the eggs of its fleas can penetrate the human skin through small wounds.

The bacteria that cause the disease is Bartonella henselae. Recently, two other types of bacteria have been identified as the causative ones Afipia felis and Bartonella clarridgeiea, but scientists are still gathering evidence to support of this discovery.

What are the symptoms?

The first symptoms of BKU appear about 3 – 14 days after the scratch, superficial bite or rarely from the lick of an ordinary domestic cat.

These clinical manifestations consist in the formation of one or more papules /small raised areas on the skin, without fluid inside/ or pustules similar to papules, but with pus inside, in the place where a domestic cat has bitten, scratched or licked you.

In most people, this rash begins to spontaneously disappear after about 1-3 weeks. But while the papules or pustules fade, the lymph nodes located in the area of ​​infection begin to swell in about 90% of cases. those affected.

The most commonly affected lymph nodes are axillary /armpits/, cervical and inguinal /groin/. These nodes are usually swollen and may even burst and ooze pus. Often those affected develop subrifleness.

One note of caution: a bite from an adult domestic cat can cause another type of rapidly progressive infection with the bacteria Pasteurella multocida and those affected should be treated within about 48 hours of the bite.< /p>

Symptoms of pain and swelling at the bite site appear about 8-24 hours after the cat bite, unlike the clinical manifestations of BKU.

Cat bite treatment

Treatment begins with controlling the pain and temperature with ibuprofen and paracetamol. Warm compresses for swollen lymph nodes help reduce pain. Some doctors recommend needle aspiration of swollen lymph nodes.

Incision and drainage are contraindicated as they will not speed up recovery and may cause scarring and fistulas (abnormal connection of organs) that continuously drain and secondary infections may develop .

Antibiotics are not used in most of those affected. However, in patients with very severe pain in the lymph node, azithromycin can be prescribed, which will reduce the pain, but will not reduce the duration of the symptoms of the syndrome.

But most doctors prescribe antibiotic therapy to anyone who has a suppressed immune system. Bartonella henselae are usually resistant to several penicillin-based antibiotics such as amoxicycline, but the literature indicates that antibiotics such as trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, gentamicin, rimampin, ciprofloxacin and azithromycin are effective and bacteria are sensitive to their action.

Antibiotics help to limit the growth of bacteria in patients with compromised immune systems. There seems to be no consensus on which class of antibiotics is the most effective, the choice of which drug to use is up to each doctor.

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