Your cat could be making you sick, according to CDC study

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A cat happily playing with a cat scratching board

A newly released study may make you think twice before cuddling with your cat.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cat-scratch disease, also known as cat-scratch fever, is more serious than previously thought.

Cat-scratch disease is a bacterial infection that is spread among cats by fleas and flea feces. According to the report, the infection is passed to humans through cat scratches, bites, or if a cat licks an open wound or scrape.

CDC researchers reviewed health insurance claims filed between 2005 and 2013. They estimate that each year 12,000 outpatients are given a cat-scratch disease diagnosis and 500 inpatients are hospitalized for cat-scratch disease.

The CDC says there is a peak in cat-scratch disease cases in January because in many cases cats are adopted from shelters during the holiday season, and they enter homes carrying the disease.

There is a wide range of side effects from the disease including fever and swollen lymph nodes. In rare cases, it can affect the brain, eyes, heart, or other internal organs. According to the CDC, these rare complications, which may require intensive treatment, are more likely to occur in children and people with weakened immune systems.

You can prevent cat-scratch disease by washing your hands after touching a cat, keeping your cat indoors, and treating for fleas.

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