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Cat scratch disease
Cats living in areas where fleas or ticks are very common, and corresponding to about 30% to 50% of the total, are highly exposed to Bartonella bacteria, a zoonosis that is transmitted from cats to dogs and man. Bartonella Henselae is a single-celled gram-negative bacterium that attacks red blood cells, causing Bartonella infections or bartonellosis..
Bartonella is transmitted to cats by a vector
Vector transmission occurs in two primary ways: inoculation of Bartonella-contaminated arthropod feces via animal scratches or bites or by self-inflected contamination of wounds induced by the host scratching irritating arthropod bites. .
The vector is usually a flea or tick, after the infection, cats can easily infect other species. This pathology is called Cat scratch disease (CSD), because that is how it is transmitted.
Bartonella infection is more likely to cause clinical symptoms in dogs compared to cats. Dogs develop a wide range of clinical and pathologic abnormalities, including: fever, endocarditis and myocarditis, granulomatous lymphadenitis, cardiac arrhythmias, granulomatous rhinitis, and epistaxis, while most cats infected with Bartonella, often appear clinically healthy.
Is there a therapy to treat Bartonella in dogs and cats?
There is no standardized antibiotic protocol for treatment of bartonellosis in cats or dogs, but doxycycline, amoxicillin, enrofloxacin, and rifampin given for a long duration (4-6 weeks) may be effective in reducing the level of bacteremia in the infected cats or dogs..
Bartonella: from cats to dogs to humans
Being a zoonotic disease, it can be transmitted between animals and humans. This disease is not fatal for humans, but it can represent a great risk for immunocompromised patients, such as AIDS patients in whom severe disseminated disease may occur.
The infection is transmitted ever by a bite or a scratch and generally children are more affected. After 3-10 days from the bite or scratch, most patients develop an erythematous, crusty papule (rarely a pustule) at the site of the scratch, while within 2 weeks a regional lymphadenopathy develops.
A certain diagnosis can be obtained with a PCR test or lymph node biopsy.
The treatment of CSD in immunocompromised patients consists in the local application of heat and analgesics. If the lymphonode is floating, aspiration with a syringe usually relieves pain.
Antibiotic therapy does not give clear benefits and generally should not be given in localized infections in immunocompetent patients.