Sun, Oct 23, 2016 | updated 05:01 AM IST

Cuddling with cat can lead to brain swelling and heart infection: Study

Updated: Sep 20, 2016 12:08 IST

Washington D.C.[USA], Sept. 20 (ANI): According to a recent warning issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cuddling with your cat could prove to be fatal, causing brain swelling and heart infection.

Cats could give a life-threatening disease with just a lick and a scratch as they carry rare bacteria in their mouth and claws called Capnocytophaga canimorsus.

While animals do not suffer ill effects, the bacteria can cause chronic infections in humans, reports Daily Mail.

And according to the CDC, side effects of the potentially deadly disease are getting worse. An earlier report revealed 12,000 Americans a year succumb to 'cat-scratch disease'.

It causes fever, fatigue, headaches, and swollen lymph nodes. In extreme cases it can even lead to brain swelling and heart infections.

According to the researchers, the cuddliest felines are the worst culprits.

In a bid to curb the number of outbreaks, officials are urging cat owners not to kiss their pets and to wash their hands as often as possible.

Christina Nelson of the CDC said, "The scope and impact of the disease is a little bit larger than we thought."

"Cat-scratch is preventable. If we can identify the populations at risk and the patterns of disease, we can focus the prevention efforts," he added.

The report tracked infection data between 2005 and 2013 and found 12,000 people are infected each year, 500 of whom require hospital attention.

Cases are most common particularly among children.

The disease comes from a bacterium which is passed from cat to cat. Though, it is hard to trace the origin of how a particular cat got it, many pick it up from flea feces.

Though, according to CDC the cases of cat-scratch disease are decreasing, the infected people are reporting more serious complications.

An expert in the feild Aaron Glatt told that the rise in complications could be because more people are immune suppressed in present, as compared to 15 years ago.

"Most of the people who get seriously sick from cat-scratch are immune-compromised. The classic example is patients with HIV," Glatt said.

Another expert Nelson believes it may simply be the case that infections were mis-categorized 15 years ago.

Regardless, she warns owners to refrain from petting cats, especially kittens. "Younger cats are more likely to have bacteria in their blood," Nelson said. (ANI)