Cat scratch disease, i.e. an infection caused by Bartonella henselae bacteria, is an infectious disease rarely diagnosed in Poland. Around the world the infection can be found in all age categories. Children are a group of high risk due to close, frequently unsupervised, contacts with pets. An infected animal – a cat, guinea pig, rabbit, sometimes a dog– transmits the disease when it bites or scratches a person’s skin. The primary change is a lump that appears on the scratched skin surface. It gradually transforms into a scab as well as grows into a painful lymphadenopathy, which may stay for up to a few months. The collateral symptoms include: high fever, copious sweat as well as a considerable fatigue, which overall may suggest an ongoing cancerous process. In about 10% of patients there occurs an extranodal form of infection, which manifests itself by: endocarditis, encephalitis, conjunctivitis and choroiditis, hepatitis as well as erythema nodosum. This research exemplifies clinical cases of various courses of cat scratch disease, which were dependent, first and foremost, on the amount of time passed between the contact with the infected animal and the diagnosis. The paper emphasizes the importance of both: the correct anamnesis regarding the patient’s contact with pets and an early diagnosis of the disease in children as the conditions that substantially improve the results of cat scratch disease treatment. A correct diagnosis of cat scratch disease in its primary form by the pediatrician or a general practitioner decreases the trauma of the child patient that may be induced by additional diagnostic tests conducted with the view to excluding a cancerous disease.
Keywords: cat scratch disease, Bartonella henselae, child, local lymphadenopathy, infectious disease