A 46-year-old woman presented with fever, night sweats, and abdominal pain for about a week. These symptoms were non-specific, and the doctors could not finalize a diagnosis.
The doctors performed an ultrasound and CT scan to find the etiology of the symptoms. Unfortunately, these investigations revealed nodules and lesions on the gastrointestinal tract and its associated glands. This revelation caused suspicion amongst the doctors and they suspected cancer. However, later on, a cat scratch would turn out to be the top differential diagnosis! (Cat scratch can cause other signs and symptoms too.)
Therefore, to rule out malignancy, the doctors performed a biopsy. The biopsy revealed an infection in her body.
Cat scratch disease: what is it?
This disease is defined as an infection transmitted to owners via their pets. However, the name of this disease is misleading, as this infection can be transmitted via any pet (cats or dogs). The causative agent is most commonly Bartonella.
“People can get cat scratch disease from house cats, about 35 percent of which carry the bacteria that cause it. [But] It doesn’t really occur all that often.There isn’t a lot of transmission from cats to their owners.”DR. GREG NELSON, A VETERINARIAN WITH CENTRAL VETERINARY ASSOCIATES, IN VALLEY STREAM, NEW YORK.
Cat scratch disease: how it happened
The 46-year-old was the owner of 2 cats. Surprisingly, she could not recall being scratched by any of them. However, she reported that a dog had bitten her. This had happened 2 weeks prior to the onset of symptoms. In addition, she recalls getting a skin lesion on her body after the dog bite. Thus, the infection must have been transmitted from there.
The woman had a quick recovery as the doctors prescribed her antibiotics for 5 days. Soon enough, her symptoms went away and she was back to normal.
“In most cases, cat scratch disease goes away on its own, without the use of antibiotics.”Dr NELSON SAID.