Health Tip: When Kitty Scratches You

Watch for signs of infection

(HealthDayNews) -- When Tabby scratches or bites you, don't just dismiss her bad temper. You could get cat scratch disease, a bacterial infection.

The condition is caused by Bartonella henselae bacteria, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Warning signs include swollen lymph nodes, especially those around the head, neck and upper limbs. A person with cat scratch disease also may experience fever, headache, fatigue and a poor appetite.

About 40 percent of cats carry B. henselae at some time in their lives, but because cats don't show any signs of illness, you can't tell which cats can spread the disease.

To reduce your risk, avoid "rough play" with cats, especially kittens, wash cat bites and scratches with running water and soap, and if you develop symptoms of an infection, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Consumer News