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Disease Profile

Cat scratch disease

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.

1-9 / 100 000

US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset

All ages





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

Bartonellosis due to Bartonella henselae infection; Cat scratch fever


Bacterial infections


Cat scratch disease (CSD) is a bacterial infection that primarily affects the lymph nodes. It is typically caused by the bacteria bartonella (Bartonella henselae). It is usually transmitted by being scratched or bitten by a cat, but rarely, no scratch or bite is involved.[1] Symptoms frequently include the formation of a small bump at the site of the scratch or bite, followed by fever and swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) within 1-3 weeks.[1][2] Lymphadenopathy commonly resolves on its own within a few months, but in some cases it may persist for up to 2 years. People with weakened immune systems (and less commonly, people with healthy immune systems) may develop more widespread disease and additional symptoms or neurological complications, which can be severe.[1] In most cases, particularly in children and adolescents, having CSD once means that it cannot occur again. The recurrence of symptoms months after disease onset has been reported in a few adults with CSD.[1] Treatment in mild or moderate cases typically involves medicines or strategies to improve symptoms, such as using fever reducers, pain relievers, or local heat over the affected lymph node(s). In more severe or systemic cases, management may involve lymph node aspiration and/or antibiotics.[1]


Most people with cat scratch disease have been bitten or scratched by a cat and develop a mild infection at the point of injury within about 3-14 days. The infected area may be warm and painful and may appear appear swollen and red with round, raised lesions. Lymph nodes, especially those around the head, neck, and upper limbs, become swollen.[2] Additionally, a person with cat scratch disease may experience fever, headache, fatigue, achiness and discomfort (malaise), sore throat, enlarged spleen, and/or loss of appetite.[3][4][2]

Learn more

These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

Where to Start

  • You can obtain information on this topic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC is recognized as the lead federal agency for developing and applying disease prevention and control, environmental health, and health promotion and education activities designed to improve the health of the people of the United States.
  • MedlinePlus was designed by the National Library of Medicine to help you research your health questions, and it provides more information about this topic.
  • The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library provides information on this condition for patients and caregivers.
  • The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) has a report for patients and families about this condition. NORD is a patient advocacy organization for individuals with rare diseases and the organizations that serve them.

In-Depth Information

  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
  • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Cat scratch disease. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


  1. Nervi SJ. Cat Scratch Disease (Cat Scratch Fever). Medscape Reference. December 4, 2018; https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/214100-overview.
  2. Cat Scratch Disease (Bartonella henselae Infection). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). April 30, 2014; https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/diseases/cat-scratch.html.
  3. Smith DS. Cat scratch disease. Medlineplus. 9/10/2015; https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001614.htm.
  4. Breitschwerdt EB. Bartonellosis. National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). 2012; https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/bartonellosis/.

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