Cat scratch fever is nothing to sing about

By Susan Aielo • Published: March 4th, 2011
Category: Animal Airwaves

You know cat scratch fever isn’t just a popular rock ’n roll song by Ted Nugent. This very real disease is caused by bacteria called Bartonella (bar-tuh-nel-a). Information about these bacteria has exploded in the past several years, and researchers in both human and veterinary medicine are discovering some surprises.

The bacteria are transmitted through cat scratches, but fleas, lice and even ticks can also be involved. And cats aren’t the only animals affected. Bartonella organisms are widespread and have also been found in people, dogs, deer, cattle, mice and squirrels.

Typically, cat scratch fever results in a short-lived fever and rash that resolves on its own. But this infection can be much more dangerous than previously thought. In fact, some illnesses that have been chalked up to Lyme disease are turning out to be bartonella infection.