Many Georgia cat owners have been scratched once or twice when handling or playing with their pet. However, those cat scratches can cause a serious illness due to a bacteria the cat can become infected with. The bacteria can transfer directly to the cat scratch.
Cats can get the bacteria on their skin from infected fleas. They then get this bacteria on their claws and mouths through general grooming. If they scratch or bite someone, the person can develop a disease caused by the bacteria. Those who are affected by the disease, called Bartonella henselae, may get skin bumps where the disease entered their skin. They may also begin to feel fatigued and develop a fever. Depending on the severity of the infection, treatment may require hospitalization and a round of antibiotics. In worst-case scenarios, the person may suffer eye infections and have their bones and brains affected.
For those who are at risk for being infected by the bacteria, experts recommend taking measures to reduce the risk. This includes keeping the cat indoors, using flea control products and working with a vet. Those who are most at risk for cat bites were children ages 5 to 9 though those who were more likely to be admitted to the hospital were males between the ages of 50 and 64 years of age.
Because animal bites can lead to serious illness, hospitalization and even death, a person who is injured may have the ability to seek compensation from the owner of the animal, especially if there was proof that the owner was negligent. The victim may want to meet with an attorney to determine how best to proceed.