Cat-Scratch Disease | Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of cat-scratch disease?

A sore or blister may develop where a cat has bitten or scratched you. It may take 3 to 10 days for the sore or blister to appear after the bite or scratch. The sore or blister may take a long time to heal.

An infection of the lymph nodes (also called lymph glands) also develops, most often in the glands that are near the place where you got the cat scratch or cat bite. For example, if the infection is from a cat scratch on your arm, the glands in your armpit may become tender and swollen. The lymph nodes may swell to an inch or more in size. You may also run a low-grade fever (up to 102°F).

Should I call my doctor if I am bitten or scratched by a cat?

Call your family doctor if you notice any of the following problems:

  • A cat scratch or bite that does not heal in the usual length of time.
  • An area of redness around a cat scratch or bite that continues to get bigger for more than 2 days after the injury.
  • Fever that lasts for several days after a cat scratch or bite.
  • Painful and swollen lymph nodes for more than 2 or 3 weeks.
  • Bone or joint pain, abdominal pain (without fever, vomiting or diarrhea) or an unusual degree of tiredness for more than 2 or 3 weeks.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 02/14
Created: 09/00

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