Bartonella a.k.a. Cat Scratch Disease


Recently a friend of mine found herself in the emergency room dealing with an unusual issue with her one of her eyes. During  the previous few months she had been experiencing a scary explosion of colour in her left eye. After a number of episodes she went to see a doctor to find out what it was.

At first they tested her for all sorts of possible eye-type issues to no avail. Next they thought it might have something to do with high blood pressure and/or hypertension. She was scheduled to go back for some more tests and what they ended up discovering was that it wasn’t related to any of the above mentioned illnesses but a bacterial infection called Bartonella.


Cat scratch disease is a bacterial infection (Bartonella) that is usually caused from the scratch lick, or bite of a cat. More than 90% of people who contract it had contact with cats or kittens. Source:

The first signs and symptoms of Bartonella are very similar to that of the flu. That is why it can be particularly hard to detect in children for moms and dads. Any parent knows there a many times throughout the year that a child can exhibit cold or flu-like symptoms. And we become quite used to it and don’t get particularly alarmed.

Most people who suffer from Cat Scratch Disease don’t recall being scratched by a cat. A number of days later a cut or bump may form where the body was in contact with the cat, but these are often mistaken for insect bites.


  • fever
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • poor appetite
  • an unusual, streaked rash
  • swollen glands especially around the head, neck and arms
  • lower abdominal pain
  • sore soles of the feet
  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • sore throat
  • soft, firm, tender, or painful lumps under the skin


If left untreated, Cat Scratch Disease can show itself in the following forms (these are very rare):

  • infections of the liver, spleen, bones, joints, or lungs
  • a  lingering high fever without other symptoms
  • eye infections
  • a small sore on the inner eyelid or lining of the eye
  • redness of the eye
  • inflammation of the brain or seizures


The good news is that many of the symptoms of Cat Scratch Disease will go away on their own. Diagnosis can be done through a blood test and there are antibiotics that can be prescribed for some cases.

Children with a history with cats and exhibit these symptoms will likely be tested for Bartonella so be sure to tell your doctor if you suspect this could be the case.

Image: Carlos Porto /

City Mom