Medical Definition of Cat scratch fever

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Cat scratch fever: An infection caused by the Bartonella henslae bacteria. Almost half of all domestic cats carry these bacteria and can transmit it to humans through a scratch or bite. Cat scratch fever causes swelling of the lymph nodes, sore throat, fatigue, fever, chills, sweats, vomiting, loss of appetite, and weight loss. There is usually a little bump (a papule), which may be pus-filled (a pustule), at the site of the scratch. In people with immunodeficiency, cat scratch fever can progress to bacillary angiomatosis, a bacterial skin infection that can be treated with the antibiotics rifampin, ciprofloxacin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, and gentamicin.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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