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Bartonella AKA Cat Scratch Disease/Fever

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Well, I just found out that my two kitties have tested positive for Bartonella. Apparently, this is a very widespread disease that is spread through the bite of a flea. Obviously, most cats encounter fleas in their lifetimes. The disease is mostly seen among young kittens who are strays or come from shelters. They call it Cat Scratch Fever because when a young kitten scratches a person that person can become infected with the disease and show various symptoms from rashes on skin to conjunctivities. The people who are at high risk of being affected are children, older people or people with compromised immune systems. My vet saw the early stages of gingivitis on Pico's front gums and commented that he was quite young to have this here. He recommended the FeBart test for Bartonella and low and behold, the kitty was positive. I had Merlynn tested just in case and she turned out to be positive as well.

This is NOT BAD. It's definitely not the end of the world and not the most expensive thing to treat. The test does run about $50-$60. I'm not quite sure how much I paid for the medication.

The vet prescribed a 3 week treatment for the kitties and after this, I am to take them back after 6 months to have titers checked to see if the disease was eliminated.

So I'm getting to Week 1 with Pico and will start Merlynn's medication on Saturday after I pick it up.

A really great site to learn about this disease is:http://www.natvetlab.com/html/bartonella.htm

"Recent studies have demonstrated 20-35 percent of cats carry the bacteria. At a nearby clinical investigation site in Falls Church owners were asked about risk factors for Bartonella exposure (history of fleas, spends time outside, came from a shelter). Even in the group of cats declared to have no risk factors by their owners, one in four cats tested positive for the bacteria. In at risk patients, 37 percent were positive. If there was any evidence of chronic inflammation, including gingivitis, cats had a 42 percent chance of testing positive for Bartonella." This quote was taken from the following site:


So, like I said, it's not the end of world, but many cat owners and even vets are not aware of this disease nor of its prevalence.

If anyone has anymore info on this, I'd love to hear it. Hopefully, my kitties will be rid of this disease after the treatment.

I look forward to your comments! Thanks!
post #2 of 8
Well, I didn't know much about it before but I do now! Thanks for posting that info, it's always good to learn more about things that could affect our cats.
I hope the treatment goes well for your two kitties!
post #3 of 8
This is great info! I'm really interested in this as we're still fighting something with Stanley. He does have nasty breath sometimes (like when we finish a course of antibiotics) and he's awfully young for gingivitis. Vet said if this last course of Clavamox doesn't work, we'd do the test for Bartonella.

He hasn't had fleas since I've had him, but he did come from a cat hoarder's house with 59 other cats, so I'm sure he was exposed to everything under the sun...
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by pushylady View Post
Well, I didn't know much about it before but I do now! Thanks for posting that info, it's always good to learn more about things that could affect our cats.
I hope the treatment goes well for your two kitties!
Thanks, me too. It's funny because Piccolino showed symptoms while Merlynn never has...

Glad I could pass on the info.
post #5 of 8
Poor kitties! Lots of get well wishes for them.

Thanks for posting the info. I had no idea it was so common!
post #6 of 8
My cat was just diagnosed with Bartonella today (he had a blood test last week). This information helps. It sounds like the disease is controllable/curable and has no long term effects. My cat is 1, and I got him from a shelter. He had been listed as stray/at large, so that indicates he was found outside. He also had extremely bad breath (for a cat even), and it sounds like this is also a side-effect. He has been getting treatment for an upper respiratory infection, and the antibiotics have helped, but the vet says the symptons will return after he finishes these antibiotics. I am waiting to receive the stronger antibiotics for the Bartonella, which he is supposed to be on for about a month.
post #7 of 8
As far as I know the antibiotic of choice for Bartonella is Zithromax. Its about 45 dollars here in NH for a bottle. My vet informed be however that most cats are never "cured" of the disease, instead it goes into remission. It can still pop up and some people end up having to have several bottles of Zithro on hand for outbreaks.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Well we have been done with the "too long" 3 week medication time for both fur babies. They seem to be fine. Actually, Merlynn was having such problems with soft stool that I just took her off and didn't finish her cycle. I was speaking to the head of The Cat Network down here and she was saying that even though most cats have this disease, they do not show symptoms and are not affected by it. I think Merlynn is just a carrier and until she shows signs, I'm not going to dowse her with meds when it screws something else up.

Pico, on the other hand, did show the gingivitis and lethargy, so I'm glad he was treated and was able to finish the meds. I have to take him back in 6 months to have blood work done to see if the bartonella is gone. I doubt I'll have Merlynn tested. She has always been fine and they cannot give the disease to eachother, so we should be good there.

Good luck to those who have to give their kitties this 3 week medication.
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