Dear Christopher Cat
My 10-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cat scratch disease. Her pediatrician treated her, and she’s fine now. How can we prevent a recurrence?
Cat scratch disease is caused by Bartonella henselae bacteria, which are carried by fleas. The bacteria infect you humans when the flea’s bacteria-laden excrement is “injected” during a cat scratch –- or possibly when an infected flea bites you.
Humans usually remain healthy or develop mild flu-like symptoms that resolve without treatment. But sometimes, two to three weeks after the scratch, the lymph node nearest the injury swells.
Rarely, someone with a weak immune system may develop more serious conditions, such as hepatitis, heart problems or encephalitis.
To prevent cat scratch disease, ensure that your cat is flea-free by using a product such as Advantage, Frontline Plus or Revolution.
Trim your cat’s claws regularly, and don’t play roughly with cats. When I feel charged up, Mom steers clear of my claws, playing with me using a laser pointer or a feather on a fishing pole.
If your cat scratches or bites you, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water, and call your health care provider.