Woman diagnosed with Bartonella henselae after suffering vision loss from cat scratch



A woman who sought medical treatment after having blurred vision and pain in her right eye was later diagnosed with a pet cat related illness.

The 55-year-old New Zealand woman, who has not been formally identified, visited an ophthalmology clinic after symptoms persisted for several days.

The researchers noted in the New England Journal of Medicine that she had no associated fever or lymphadenopathy.

“An eye exam revealed severe vision loss (she could only count the fingers), a relative afferent pupillary defect, and reduced color vision in the right eye,” wrote researchers at the Faculty of Medicine of the ‘University of Auckland.

After further examination and serological evaluation, the doctors concluded that the woman’s symptoms corresponded to a Bartonella infection.

The 55-year-old New Zealand woman has been diagnosed with Bartonella henselae. Credit: New England Journal of Medicine

“Bartonella henselae is the causative agent of cat scratch disease; in this case, the patient had been exposed to cats but could not recall any recent scratches, ”the researchers wrote.

The woman received topical glucocorticoid eye drops and antibiotics.

“The macular edema, the swelling of the nerves and the relative afferent pupillary defect resolved, and the patient regained visual acuity of 20/80 in the right eye,” the report concludes.

Potentially fatal

According to Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention, cat scratch disease (CSD) is the product of potentially fatal bacteria found in cats’ mouths.

He indicates that around 40% of cats are carriers of Bartonella henselae at some point in their lives.

Although complications are rare, the CDC says Bartonella can cause damage to the brain, eyes, heart, or other internal organs in children or adults with weakened immune systems.

An 80-year-old Melbourne grandmother died last year after contracting bacterial meningitis from her cat ‘Minty’ who scratched her and then licked the wound.



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