Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blame Cat Scratch Fever on the Kitty

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blame Cat Scratch Fever on the Kitty

Article excerpt

Dear Dr. Donohue: I am looking for something on cat scratch fever. My son had it, and the doctors took a couple of weeks to determine what the problem was. They removed a lymph node from one of my son's arms that had been causing numbness. It was benign. He is still not back to normal. They tell him to rest. I am concerned. Can't they use antibiotics?

Cat scratch fever has been with us a long time, but we only recently established its cause - a bacterium that cats, most often kittens, carry on their claws or in their saliva. It does not make the animal ill, but it can infect humans.

The person bitten or scratched by the animal might not know about the infection until a couple of weeks later. The patient might have a slight fever, often a headache, and a general lousy feeling.

The telltale visual sign is enlarged lymph nodes, which you reported. Often you find them on the arm or armpit. Some patients have enlarged neck nodes. Biopsy of a node helps in diagnosis.

You don't tell me how long ago the symptoms started. Your son might be having a more difficult time than most cat scratch fever patients, who usually recover in two to four months. An infection of the nodes can take longer to subside.

Sometimes, in truly serious situations, antibiotics are tried, but there is no solid evidence that antibiotics help.

Dear Dr. Donohue: I am writing in support of a courageous 16-year-old who wrote you, explaining he had only one testicle, which he lost at age 6. I suffered the same fate. I also have one testicle. As a boy of 15, being fatherless, I had no one to answer my questions about such matters. Because of shyness, I withdrew from making friends, sports, locker-room showers, etc., petrified that people would laugh at me. I saw how cruel people could be to others who are different.

At 18, I passed a physical for the Navy, and in boot camp, no one seemed to notice me, so I lost my shyness forever. …

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