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A woman seeking medical treatment for blurred vision and pain in her right eye was later diagnosed with a disease related to a pet cat.
The 55-year-old New Zealander, who was not officially identified, visited an eye clinic after symptoms persisted for several days.
The researchers found in the New England Journal of Medicine that she had no associated fever or lymphadenopathy.
“An eye exam revealed severe loss of vision (she could only count her fingers), a relatively afferent pupillary defect, and decreased color vision in the right eye,” wrote researchers at the University of Auckland School of Medicine.
After further examination and serological examination, the doctors concluded that the woman’s symptoms were consistent with Bartonella infection.
The 55-year-old New Zealander was diagnosed with Bartonella henselae. Photo credit: New England Journal of Medicine
“Bartonella henselae is the causative agent of cat scratch disease. In the present case, the patient had been exposed to cats but did not remember any recent scratches, ”the researchers wrote.
The woman was given topical glucocorticoid eye drops and antibiotics.
“The macular edema, nerve swelling, and relative afferent pupillary defect resolved and the patient returned to 20/80 visual acuity in the right eye,” the report concluded.
Cat scratch disease (CSD) is the product of a potentially fatal bacterium found in cats’ mouths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It is said that around 40 percent of cats will carry Bartonella henselae at some point in their life.
While complications are rare, according to the CDC, Bartonella can damage the brain, eyes, heart, or other internal organs in children or adults with compromised immune systems.
A Melbourne grandmother, 80, died last year after contracting bacterial meningitis from her cat ‘Minty’, which she scratched and then licked the wound.