An immunocompromised patient developed fatal blood poisoning (septicemia) after being scratched by his cat, in one case described in the BMJ case report. According to doctors, it is a growing phenomenon.
People with immunity problems should be educated about the risks of owning animals
“The likelihood of zoonotic infections increases with the number of households in which pets are kept,” the experts write. “Although these infections are self-transmitted in most healthy people, they are more serious in people with compromised immune systems,” they explain.
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“This case illustrates the need for a detailed medical history, including the history of the pet, in immunocompromised patients with a fever of unknown origin,” they warn. “People with immunodeficiency also need to be better informed about the risks of keeping pets,” they emphasize.
Cat scratch disease
The most common symptoms of cat scratch disease are fever, enlarged, and tender lymph nodes that appear 1 to 3 weeks after initial exposure. Crusts can also form at the site of the scratch. In the United States, most cases occur in children under the age of 15.
The septicemia reported in this case study was likely caused by cat-scratch disease. Known as “benign lymphatic vaccination,” it is an infection caused by the bacterium Bartonella henselae. It is transmitted from cat to cat by fleas and lives primarily in the oral cavity of pets.
A notice: Bartonella bacteria can be found in the blood of up to a third of healthy cats.
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Cat scratch disease is the most common disease transmitted by scratching cats. It can also be spread by biting a cat or licking a skin wound (such as a child’s leg). Children and adults under the age of 20 and people with immunosuppression (e.g. cancer, HIV or immunosuppressive treatment) are particularly affected.
If removing the animal is not an option, one way to limit the spread of Bartonella henselae is to regularly check your cat for fleas. It is also recommended that the animal be regularly tested for all infectious diseases, including those that could affect the human owner. Cats who have the bacteria can be treated with antibiotics.
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Cat scratch disease sepsis in an immunocompromised patient