Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Cat Scratch Disease Underlying Cause

Cat scratch disease is caused by the bacteria, Bartonella henselae. About 60 percent of stray cats carry Bartonella henselae in the bloodstream, while only about 20 percent of pet cats carry the bacteria. The bacteria can grow under a person's skin after a bite or scratch. As they grow, they spread to the lymph glands near the injury (usually above the level of the bite). The bacteria cause an infection of the lymph glands, called lymphadenitis.

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Last Updated: Mar 18, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Cat Scratch Disease References
  1. Chian CA, Arrese JE, Pierard GE. Skin manifestations of Bartonella infections. Int J Dermatol. 2002 Aug;41(8):461-6. [12207759]
  2. Lamps LW, Scott MA. Cat-scratch disease: historic, clinical, and pathologic perspectives. Am J Clin Pathol. 2004 Jun;121 Suppl:S71-80. [1529815]
  3. Rolain JM, Chanet V, Laurichesse H, Lepidi H, Beytout J, Raoult D. Cat scratch disease with lymphadenitis, vertebral osteomyelitis, and spleen abscesses. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2003 Jun;990:397-403. [12860662]
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