Cat-scratch disease, also known as "cat-scratch fever," has more serious complications than researchers originally believed, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And researchers say a majority of the victims are young children.
The study covered more than 13,000 cases between the years of 2005-2013. The highest average annual CSD incidence was among children 5-9 years of age. The next highest group was women 60-64 years of age.
Cat-scratch disease is a rare, bacterial infection that is passed between cats by fleas. When it spreads to humans either through scratches, bites or allowing a cat to lick an open wound or scrape, the human can become seriously ill.
Side effects can range from a headache, fever and swollen lymph nodes to rarer incidents where the heart or brain are affected, according to the CDC.
The disease is mostly preventable. The CDC recommends having a flea control program in place and washing hands after interacting with cats.
Researchers could not explain why there were an unusually high number of cases in January of each year. They speculated that it was due to cats being given as holiday gifts.