Joseph R Anticaglia MD
Medical Advisory Board
About 25% of households in the US own one or more cats, which means close to 32 million families are feline friendly. If you belong to one of those families, who among you can say, “I never have been scratched or bitten by a cat?”
Elaine has loved and owned cats since childhood. She visited her sister one afternoon who owns a three year old orange tabby cat named Simba. He was rescued from the humane society. “I bent down to pet the cat and for some reason, Simba bit my right hand in the space of the first two knuckles and wouldn’t let go. What happened next was scary.”
My hand hurt and it became red and swollen. I didn’t think much about it until several hours later when it became very painful, I had trouble moving my fingers and the swelling was creeping up toward my right elbow.
I went to an urgent care center and the doctor immediately referred me to a hand surgeon who said, ‘This is a serious infection that can spread to the lymph glands and throughout your body. I want you to take these antibiotics and return to my office in two days. Call me immediately if you’re getting worse. We may have to operate.’
“Fortunately, the antibiotics worked so I didn’t need surgery. But I developed lymph nodes in the underarm on right side and it took a few months before they disappeared. And I can’t completely flex the first two fingers of my right hand.
These are some of the things I learned from personal experience, my doctor and reading about cat scratch disease (CSD) and bites. It’s also called “Cat-Scratch Fever.”
Cats become an important part of the family. They are often an emotional tonic that provokes laughter improving your mood while making you forget your troubles for a while. Although most cat scratches and bites are mild, cats, at times, carry harmful bacteria in the saliva that can cause serious diseases.
This article is intended solely as a learning experience. Please consult your physician for diagnostic and treatment options.