Is this fantasy or reality? Fox News tells us that this boy’s diagnosed schizophrenia was cured with antibiotics because his mental illness was caused by a cat. Cat scratch disease is caused by bacteria and therefore if you give the sufferer antibiotics they kill the bacteria and resolve the disease. That’s the story but I’m not sure that I can believe it.
This is the story of a sociable, athletic and academically active 14-year-old boy who got excellent course grades at his school. His mood started to deteriorate and over several years he appears to have descended into psychosis-like symptoms including hallucinations, depression and suicidal thoughts. Two psychiatrists diagnosed schizophrenia. A physician learned that the boy had been scratched by his pet cat and provided an alternative diagnosis namely cat scratch disease.
After becoming ill he was in and out of hospitals and treatment centres. He felt confused, depressed, agitated and overwhelmed by it all. He was placed in a psychiatric hold for a week after telling people that he was an “evil, damned son of the devil”.
In the summer of 2016 he was hospitalised for 11 weeks at a psychiatric teaching hospital where he was extensively tested. Stretch marks were found around his thighs and armpit. We don’t know what sort of drugs he was on at this time. Were the drugs to blame?
The strange stretch marks were not due to fluctuations in weight and a doctor diagnosed that they were caused by cat scratch disease. He described them as “cutaneous lesions”. We don’t know more such as where was he scratched?
Cat scratch disease is caused by the bacteria Bartonella henselae. The bacteria is found in about one third of healthy cats according to CDC. As you might know, cat scratch disease causes relatively mild symptoms normally. They go away without treatment but antibiotics are required for more serious cases. It’s strange that the CDC recommend washing your hands after touching your cat! This is totally impractical and no one does it.
The extraordinary aspect of this boy’s story is that after receiving antibiotics he fully recovered from his illness. Now, I think that his condition might not have been caused by cat scratch disease. I would say that because I want to defend cats but I think it is quite possibly true although I have no qualifications to make that statement but some experience nonetheless. His family, we are told, have a history of depression, alcohol abuse and possible bipolar disorder. Is this relevant? It must be.
Perhaps the boy became depressed due to the onset of puberty and then the doctors became involved and started giving him drugs which gave him symptoms that resembled schizophrenia. I’m not saying that that is what happened. I’m just suggesting that there are alternative possibilities that may seem quite innocent. Doctors and hospitals can and do make people ill.
Fox News on the same page report that a woman went blind after her cat scratched her eye. These are click bait articles. The woman’s blindness was also caused by cat scratch disease, Fox News report but they do not provide any hard details. I really think that these sort of news reports are irresponsible. The newspapers might think they’re clever because they get clicks but in the long term they do not contribute to domestic cat welfare, quite the opposite.
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