Cat-Scratch Disease | Treatment

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How is cat-scratch disease treated?

In most people, cat-scratch disease clears up without treatment. Often, taking an over-the-counter pain reliever such as aspirin, ibuprofen (some brands: Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (one brand: Aleve) and applying heat compresses to the affected area can help relieve pain and discomfort.

However, antibiotics (medicines that kill bacteria) may be needed when infected lymph nodes stay painful and swollen for more than 2 to 3 months. Antibiotics may also help if you have a fever for a long time or if the infection is in your bones, liver or another organ.

If a lymph node is very large or painful, your doctor may drain it to help relieve the pain. The lymph node is drained by putting a needle through normal skin off to the side of the node and moving the needle to the swollen node. The needle is then inserted into the node and the fluid in the node is drained out.

Should cats be treated?

Cats typically don't require treatment. The bacteria usually don’t cause cats to get sick. They merely carry the bacteria that cause cat-scratch disease in people. If you are worried that your cat may be experiencing symptoms from the Bartonella henselae bacteria, contact your vet.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

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

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