Cat scratch fever is a bacterial infection you can get from being scratched or bitten by a cat, kitten, or sometimes a dog. This usually goes away without treatment. But it can become a serious condition that requires care from your doctor.
The bacteria that cause cat scratch fever are found in fleas. They are passed on to cats through flea bites. They are passed on to humans through a cat scratch or bite.
The most common risk factor is being bitten or scratched by a cat or kitten.
Swollen Lymph Nodes
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Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. If you remember that you were bitten or scratched by a cat, your doctor may be able to diagnose the disease based on the fact that you were bitten or scratched, then got painful, swollen lymph nodes. Tests may include a blood test, especially if the diagnosis is not clear from the exam and medical history.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
To prevent cat scratch fever, take the following steps:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Winn Feline Foundation
Canadian Veterinary Medical Association
Cat scratch disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
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Updated June 23, 2011. Accessed December 31, 2012.
Cat-scratch disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated October 25, 2012. Accessed December 31, 2012.
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Last reviewed December 2013 by David L Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 1/13/2014