Can your cat make you sick? CDC releases cat-scratch disease study

Cuddling with your cat might seem like a harmless past time, but not if you get scratched.

Cat-scratch disease, which is also known as “cat-scratch fever,” has more serious complications than researchers originally thought, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The bacterial infection, which is passed between cats by fleas, is spread to humans through scratches, bites or allowing a cat to lick an open wound or scrape, according to the report.

To identify how common the disease actually is, researchers pored over data from health insurance claims from 2005 to 2013.

While the disease is extremely rare, the study found that those who are infected and become seriously ill has increased, according to the report.

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.

Each year about 12,000 people are diagnosed with cat-scratch disease and 500 require hospitalization, according to the report.

According to the CDC, people can avoid cat-scratch disease by washing their hands after playing with their cat, keeping cats indoors and treating for fleas.

Cats that are less than a year old are more likely to have the bacteria Bartonella henselae which causes the disease, according to CDC.

Young children, those with a compromised immune system and the elderly are most likely to be affected.

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