How much do you know about Bartonella?

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If you’ve ever got on the wrong side of your cat, it’s important to know about a pesky bacteria called Bartonella.

You may not have heard about Bartonella, but you probably have heard of cat scratch disease. It’s a disease that is uncomfortable but curable, although there can be more serious side effects. Here is everything you need to know about Bartonella.

Owner stroking cat

What is Bartonella?

Bartonella is a relatively common bacteria that is found all over the world. They live inside the lining of blood vessels and can be found in both humans and animals. The resulting disease is known as bartonellosis. The bacteria are generally spread by ticks, fleas, sandflies, mosquitoes…and cats. Bartonella can also be a co-infection with Lyme disease.

What is Bartonella henselae?

Bartonella henselae is the bacteria responsible for cat scratch disease (CSD). It’s exactly as it sounds – an infection in humans that occurs after a scratch or bite from domestic or feral cats, especially kittens. It is most common in children (and in anyone who has a grumpy cat).

What are Bartonella symptoms?

Symptoms of Bartonella henselae and CSD include fever, a scab around the wound and swollen lymph nodes (1-3 weeks later). Many people also report a decreased appetite, aches and pains, and a red rash resembling stretch marks. Extreme and more serious signs of bartonellosis include blurred vision, numbness, memory loss and balance problems.

What is the treatment for Bartonella?

Treatment often depends on what strain of Bartonella is found in the patient. Doctors can provide guidance and it is possible they may need to prescribe appropriate antibiotics for Bartonella .

Can Bartonella be cured?

Yes, in the majority of cases, the immune system will kill the bacteria on its own. Otherwise, antibiotics can be prescribed.

What is the best way to prevent Bartonella?

To avoid contracting Bartonella and CSD, it’s recommended to give your cat regular flea treatments, as well as thoroughly washing your hands after handling faeces and kitty litter to avoid any contamination. It’s also a good idea to keep in your cat’s good books…

Find out more about effective flea treatments for cats here.

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Date of review May 2022

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