Summary

Traumatic cat contact results in either bacillary angiomatosis in the immunocompromised patient or CSD in the immunocompetent patient. It appears that CSD is not easily acquired. In the immunocompetent host, CSD is not a serious illness and does not require treatment, with healthy individuals usually developing lifelong immunity, preventing reinfection. The final identification of B. henselae represents the convergence of fascinating data from eclectic fields of study, including AIDS-related opportunistic infections, epidemiology, pathology, molecular biology, microbiology, and veterinary medicine. The diagnosis of CSD can be overlooked easily if the clinician fails to obtain an adequate history, especially in the case of the atypical syndromes, and not uncommonly in the case of adults with the typical syndrome whose clinicians are inexperienced with CSD. With domestic cats representing the single largest category of companion animals in the United States, the importance of accurate history regarding animal exposure cannot be emphasized enough when evaluating a patient with findings consistent with CSD. Fortunately, in most cases, whether typical or atypical, spontaneous resolution occurs.

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