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By Dave Hall

For all you hypochondriacs out there, Dave Hall continues his regular look at a some of the more unusual medical conditions, as well as some you thought you knew all about.


Condition This unusual infectious disease is caused by the bacteria Bartonella. It is most commonly found in children 1-2 weeks after being scratched by a cat, and was first described in 1889 by Henri Parinaud. Symptoms include: fever, headache, backache, abdominal pain, malaise, alteration of mental status, and convulsions. It may take a week or two or as long as a two months before these symptoms appear. Kittens are more likely to carry the bacteria in their blood than adult cats – you see, they’re not as cute and cuddly as you might think!
Contagion – Although when one person scratches, it seem to set other people off doing it too, there is no evidence that this particular condition is at all contagious.
Danger of death – Not likely, unless you catch it from a particularly dangerous big cat! 
Incurability? In most cases, the disease usually goes away with or without treatment in about a month – therefore no need to worry about having to take antibiotics. However, these can help make it go quicker in come cases.
Likelihood of getting time off work Itching all the time certainly seems to bring out the suspicious side of people, and if you play your cards right, you could well get sent home and told to ‘de-flea’ yourself.
Brag-ability Trying to tell your friends you have a cutesy-wutesy little kitten but has made you scratch uncontrollably will make you seem like a bit of a clown. However, it could be worth it if the cat is indeed cutesy and, dare I add, wutesy.

Overall ridiculousness Not very common, even less interesting, but still more fun to talk about than the common cold. Interestingly, ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ is also the name of a 1977 album by Ted Nugent, a hard rock singer with the band The Amboy Dukes.

More conditions to come soon:

Alien Hand Syndrome, Whooping Cough and more.

Find more curious conditions in Doctor Doctor. If you can't wait for the next Doctor Doctor, then why not find a phunny phobia to keep you going?

Photo: Playtime, Wiki

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12 May 2009
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