A bacterial (rickettsial) disease that can be acquired from the scratch or bite of a cat; it is not the same as a cat scratch that gets secondarily infected. While generally mild and self-limiting among people with healthy immunity, the disease can lead to potentially fatal complications in people with weak immune systems. It appears to be most commonly acquired from kittens but this disease is not completely understood, and there may be other sources of infection.
The infective organism is Bartonella henselae, which is transmitted by fleas as the primary host. As many as 30% of human patients infected may not have been bitten or scratched by a cat and the infection may be linked to tick bites.
Cat scratch disease has been reported in people with AIDS.