Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has come up with a bad news for cat lovers. The public health institute of the United States says that the beautiful felines carry rare bacteria called Capnocytophaga canimorsus aka C. Canimorsus. In extreme cases, it can even lead to brain swelling and heart infections.
In a report published by Free Press Journal on September 20, CDC stated that "12,000 Americans fall prey to cat-scratch diseases each year. It also causes fever, fatigue, headaches, and swollen lymph nodes."
The cuddliest kitties were labelled as the 'worst culprits' by CDC. Younger cats have more probability of having the bacteria in their blood, an expert revealed.
According to CDC, the bacteria get transmitted to the body by scratch or licking of the kitten. This microbe does not harm animals, but can be fatal for humans.
In order to prevent this ailment from spreading further, the officials requested cat owners to avoid kissing their pets and sanitise their hands by washing them often.
"The scope and impact of the disease is a little bit larger than we thought," said Christina Nelson, an epidemiologist with CDC.
"Cat-scratch is preventable. If we can identify the populations at risk and the patterns of disease, we can focus the prevention efforts," she added.
The data available from 2005 to 2013 was analysed in the report and it was found that 12,000 people were diagnosed with the infection each year and 500 out of them ended up needing critical hospital care.
The infection is contagious and spreads among cats. It's believed that flea feces are responsible for the transmission of these bacteria in cats. Though depletion in the number of cat-scratch disease cases have been observed, rise in serious complications faced by infected people have also been reported.
Aaron Glatt, an expert in this field explained that the reason behind this is the immunity one possesses. "Most of the people who get seriously sick from cat-scratch are immune-compromised. The classic example is patients with HIV," Glatt said.