Cat Scratch Disease

A small, pimple like eruption, usually on the arm or leg, where a child has had a recent cat scratch.

Ten to 30 days later, a tender swelling of nearby lymph nodes (collections of cells that play an active role in the body’s immune response). These lymph nodes can become quite large, sometimes measuring two inches in diameter. They are usually noticed in the armpit if the scratch was on the hand, in the groin if the leg or foot was involved, or in the neck if a cat scratched the child’s face. Mild headache, low-grade fever, and fatigue may occur along with the swollen lymph nodes.

Cat scratch disease is a benign infection and will heal on its own in about two months.

Over 50 million homes in the United States have one or more cats; as a result this illness is fairly common at 20,000 cases per year, though fortunately not contagious between humans. If you intend to keep one or more cats as a pet, you should teach your children to approach, handle, and play with cats.