Baby and Cat diseases

Scratch Disease
Cats play host to a variety of bacteria, one of which causes cat scratch disease. As the name suggests, this is an illness brought on by the introduction of bacteria into a scratch or bite. The bacteria, Bartonella henselae, is transmitted through the saliva of an infected cat.

Symptoms can present in many different ways. They can cause a bump at the scratch site, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, general discomfort, headache and a fever. Cat scratch disease is generally not serious and normally will resolve without treatment. In children with normal immune systems, full recovery is expected without issue. In severe cases, an antibiotic is prescribed.

To avoid having your baby or child get cat scratch disease, supervise all interactions with the cat. If a bite or scratch should occur, wash it out with lots of soap and water. If symptoms of cat scratch disease appear, contact your doctor.

Protecting Your Family--And Your Cat
General sanitary measures will go a long way in preventing the spread of disease from cat to humans. Most of these are common sense and will prevent much more than diseases spread by cats. Some general rules are:

Wash your hands after petting your cat.
Use gloves when cleaning the litter boxes--especially if you are pregnant.
Have your cat checked out at the vet every year to rule out internal and external parasites.
Keep your cat indoors to reduce exposure to wild animals that can spread disease to your cat and your child.
Keep your cat's vaccinations up to date.
Clean the litter box daily.
Avoid letting your cat lick your utensils, plates and glasses.
Keep your cat off of the counter tops.
Cover your child's sandbox when it is not in use to keep stray cats from using it as a litter box.
Periodically wash litter boxes with scalding water and detergent.
Seek medical attention for cat bites.
With a little precaution, your baby and your child can happily, and healthily, live together.

Roundworm and Hookworm
These parasites live in the intestinal system of cats and dogs, being more common in puppies and kittens. They are passed from one animal to the next through contact with infected feces. Although most young animals show no signs of infection, the worms can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Humans can get the worms through the same route as animals--by accidentally ingesting the microscopic eggs that are passed in the feces. The eggs are resilient and can persist in playgrounds, parks and other outdoor play areas where an infected animal has been. Hookworm larvae are capable of entering the body through exposed skin.

Children are prone to get these infections since they are more likely to be playing in the dirt and placing dirty objects in their mouths. Roundworm infections often go unnoticed, though rarely it can cause tissue or nerve damage. Hookworms can cause a skin infection in humans. Having your kitten checked annually for worms is the best way to prevent infection.

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