Cat Scratch Fever and Pregnant Women

by Michael

On the internet there is quite a lot of ignorant re-cycling of anti-cat propaganda based on distorted scientific ideas. There are two diseases that constantly reappear and which are used against the cat: toxoplasmosis and cat scratch fever. The latter is often used as an argument to declaw cats or simply to promote a fear of the cat by people who dislike cats and both are of concern to pregnant women, especially the former.

It is nice, therefore, to read about some sensible research which puts the record straight and which helps to silence the anti-cat brigade.

Cat scratch disease (or fever) is caused by an organism called, Bartonella henselae. The organism can be transmitted to people through a cat’s scratch or bite. In these instances the organism is on the cat’s claws or in the cat’s mouth. The infection may cause inflammation at the site of the scratch. The skin becomes reddened. Rarely (in about 10% of cases) there are more serious symptoms. In truth it is a pretty much a non-event for 99.9% of us. We don’t need to think about it in my opinion as it is rare especially if we apply common sense principles in handling our cat. Apparently in the USA, 22,000 people are affected each year. When you consider that there are 80 million domestic cats in the US, the percentage is very small.

The sensible research that I am referring to is a study by Dr. Michael Giladi at the Infectious Disease Unit of Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Israel. His research concerned the impact of the Bartonella organism on pregnant women.

Most of the concern regarding both cat scratch disease and toxoplasmosis is in respect of pregnant women and the unknown or potential dangers to the unborn child.

The study collated information on every occurrence of cat scratch disease in pregnant women in Israel from 2000-2010. Over that period there were 1.6 million births and just 8 cases of cat scratch disease in pregnant women.

Of these eight women, six gave birth to healthy babies (and of continuing good health). One lady had a miscarriage and the eighth had an abortion unassociated with the infection. The cause of the miscarriage is not known and there is nothing to link it with the Bartonella infection.

Well, there you are. On the basis of this research pregnant ladies should not be concerned about their cat. In this article I write about toxoplasmosis.

On a common sense basis, precautions should be put in place to avoid being scratched or bitten. We are in charge of that. The most likely candidate to get bitten is a young person because of a lack knowledge in how to handle or play with a cat. Parents need to deal with this.

Claws can be trimmed. And the life cycle of the Bartonella organism includes the cat flea so efficient flea control is very important. That means daily flea combing of your cat and managing fleas around the home.

Associated articles

What causes cat scratch fever?

Cat scratch fever can cause impairment of vision

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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