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A to Z: Cat Scratch Disease

May also be called: Cat Scratch Fever

Cat scratch disease is an infection caused by the bacterium Bartonella henselae. It comes from a scratch or bite of an infected cat, usually a kitten.

More to Know

Cat scratch disease is usually a mild illness that causes swollen lymph nodes. The illness is most often seen in the fall and winter.

Someone who has been bitten or scratched by an infected kitten or cat may develop a bump or blister, then swollen and tender lymph nodes. A fever, headache, or fatigue also can develop. In a few cases, the infection can spread to other parts of the body.

Keep in Mind

Cat scratch disease usually gets better without treatment, but sometimes antibiotics are prescribed. Rarely, a doctor will need to drain pus from a swollen lymph node. People who have had the infection usually do not get it again.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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