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Lions and tigers and cats, oh no.

Okay, so you've survived a mauling by a lion or tiger. Think your problems are over? Think again.

Many of the big cats, like their domesticated relatives, harbor Pasteurella multocida. This bacterium is capable of launching a second attack in humans after a bite or scratch has been inflicted. A report from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, which appears in the June 14 JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, describes two such encounters. One occurred after a young Masai warrior in Kenya fought a lion as a test of manhood, and the other happened when an 11-year-old girl in British Columbia was allowed to pet a Bengal tiger at a zoo.

Within a day after each attack, the victims developed serious P. multocida infections, resulting in high fever and requiring treatment with antibiotics.

The same infection can be inflicted by domestic cats; though few reports have linked the bacterium to their larger cousins, this "probably reflects the infrequency of survival after such encounters," the researchers note.

Elsewhere on the feline front, University of Connecticut researchers in Farmington report finding a likely bacterial candidate for another condition transmitted by cats, cat scratch disease. Other researchers have stained and photographed the bacterium, but this is the first modern isolation.

Cat scratch disease is marked by swollen lymph nodes and fever that follow the formation of a tiny skin lump at the site of a cat scratch. Most victims with the disease recover fully, and it often goes undiagnosed, says U. Conn.'s Michael A. Gerber.

The bacterium appears markedly similar to one described in a 1913 report on an ocular form of cat scratch disease, and may well be the same organism, says Gerber. The failure to find the organism since the early report may be because by the time the disease becomes evident the responsible microbes have all but disappeared, Gerber suggests.
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Title Annotation:bacterial infections in humans caused by cat scratches
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 20, 1985
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