Cat owners beware, your precious kitty could be responsible for spreading a dangerous bacterial infection to yourself or family members. The bacteria, Bartonella henselae, is passed between cats and fleas. Bartonella henselae can build up in the mouths and on the paws of cats when they groom themselves. When pet owners develop illness caused by this bacteria, doctors call it ‘cat scratch fever’.
How Do You Get Cat Scratch Fever?
If your cat scratches you or licks an open would, you can contract cat-scratch fever. Children are most likely to contract cat scratch fever because they may roughhouse with cats.
While this illness is mild in most people, children and those with compromised immune systems can develop significant complications. These complications include brain swelling or heart failure. Of the 12,000 people diagnosed with cat-scratch disease, only 500 require hospitalization.
Most people who are sickened with Bartonella henselae will develop fever and swollen lymph nodes. The site of the infection may also become red, swollen and hot to the touch.
Why is Cat-Scratch Fever Misdiagnosed?
Severe cases of cat-scratch fever can be confused with other illnesses. Failure to treat this condition can cause significant health consequences for patients, especially children. For example, brain swelling can cause brain damage.
Doctors should exercise reasonable care when treating younger or immunocompromised patients who are symptomatic and have had recent contact with cats. There are no good excuses to misdiagnose patients, especially younger ones.
The Florida medical malpractice attorneys at Shapiro Law Group will hold doctors accountable for misdiagnosis.