Infectious Disease Expert Discusses Fleas and Cat Scratch Fever

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a headshot of Prof. Scott Weese

Prof. Scott Weese

Prof. Scott Weese, Department of Pathobiology at the Ontario Veterinary College, spoke to the Toronto Star about the illness known as “cat-scratch fever.”

The condition, officially called Cat-Scratch Disease, is caused by bartonella bacteria, which are transmitted to humans via cat bites and occasionally cat scratches. The cats themselves contract the bacteria through flea bites.

“Fleas are the driver” of the disease, Weese said, adding that because Canada has long, cold winters that kill off large numbers of fleas, cat scratch fever is less common here than  in warmer regions.

He advised that the best way to avoid contracting the illness is to not irritate a cat so much that it attacks with bites and scratches.

Weese is the director of U of G’s Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses as well as the chief of infection control at OVC, where he researches  animal infections, including rabies, tick-borne disease and antimicrobial resistance.