ATLANTA (Reuters Health) Mar 18 – Although people of any age can contract cat-scratch disease, children may be at particularly high risk, according to researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The infection is relatively common and usually not serious, but up to 25% of cases can result in severe systemic illness, the researchers report in the March 15th issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The CDC estimates that about 22,000 new cases of cat-scratch disease occur in the US each year; and children younger than 10 years are at greatest risk for infection. The disease is one of the most common causes of chronic lymphadenopathy among children, the report indicates.
"Children may simply be at greater risk of exposure, as they are probably more prone to engage in rough play with cats than are adults," the CDC's Dr. Mary Reynolds told Reuters Health.
In the report, the federal agency looked at 32 children treated for cat-scratch disease at a hospital in Texas over a 1-year period. Overall, 14 children had to be hospitalized, and the more severely affected youngsters had a variety of signs and symptoms including high fevers, persistent low-grade fevers, an inability to walk due to back pain, and endocarditis.