Ringworm, Cat Sratch Fever and Cats = CFS/FM......

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by dd, Jun 12, 2003.

  1. dd

    dd New Member

    Another interesting theory that I heard from my doctor this week.

    He was asking me when I came down "sick" if there was anything different that happened to me that was out of the norm just prior to the onset of symptoms. I thought for a few moments before I answered him because I have told so many doctors of my ringworm incident and just got a strange look from them...I didn't want that to happen again. I decided to tell him anyway. About 3 months prior to my CFS symptoms starting I had a SEVERE case of ringworm. My whole family came down with it. MY youngest son and I got it the worst. My youngest had it so bad that the pediatrician was taking pictures of him and was contemplating admitting him to the hospital. That's how bad it was. I had the ringworm lesions all over my body...in my nose even.

    I had taken in a stray kitten. We had her for a few days and I began to notice that she was losing hair in a few places but just thought that it was fleas or something so I treated her for fleas. A week later the whole family started getting little red rings on our bodies. I don't know why but I thought that it may be ringworm...I had never seen it but I guess it was just a gut feeling that I had. I took the kitten to the vet and sure enough she had ringworm. The vet said that she was too young to receive the shots for ringworm so she gave me some shampoo and topical medicine for the kitten and also shaved her completely bald. I was the one that put the medicine and shampoo on her twice a day for 2 weeks. In that time I was scrathed and bit so many times that I lost count. Cats do not like water!!!! I took her back to the vet after the 2 week treatment and she still had the ringworm all over her...and so did I. The vet suggested that I put her to sleep. I could not do that and asked her to give the kitten the shots as a last resort. It took a week or so but the ringworm cleared up on the kitten...I still had it for another 2 weeks...so that was about a month in all that I had it.

    3 months later I began to feel really run down and so tired all the time that I could barely get out of bed...not normal for me at all. I rarely ever got sick at all and always had energy so I knew there was something wrong with me. I felt so bad that I was calling in sick at work all the time which was not normal for me either. I went to my GP and told him about the ringworm and he just shrugged his shoulders and told me that I was just run down from working and taking care of my 3 children. He told me to go home and rest and I would feel better. Well, I never got better...I got continuously worse and eventually had to quit my job.

    This is everything that I told my new doctor. Not only did he take me seriously but told me that ringworm can get into the blood stream if it was a severe enough case...which he thinks mine was. He also told me that cats are carriers of a lot of viruses and cat saliva is the worst. He said that my symptoms are that of Cat Scratch Fever...even though it is very rare... and has done the blood work to see if I do have it. I should have some answers next week. He also told me that people with weakened immune systems, for whatever reason, catch these viruses from cats very easily. I tested positive for CMV a couple of years ago and now tested positive with EBV. My doc told me that CMV can be transmitted thru cat saliva.

    Sorry for such a long post. Anyone with cats should maybe look into this theory. We have nothing to lose and maybe get some answers to all the DD's. This doctor is an immune specialist and seems to be on top of things. He's also testing me for Lyme Disease because I was bitten a few times but was always told that we don't have Lyme here in Florida. Will keep you updated with the results.


  2. Shirl

    Shirl New Member

    Yours is not the first story that I have hear like this with the poor cats.

    It was on the news last week that cats carry more than 60 different bacteria in their saliva.

    My daughter, when she saw about 10 was playing with a cat at a plant nursery, well a few days later she had a ringworm, first one I had ever seen in my life. I was told them about cats and disease with humans by her doctor way back then.

    Its a virus, not a worm, I think the name came from the fact its round and raised.

    She is fine, but it was taken care of right away. She has had them once in a while (she is a cat person) since then. I have only owned two cats in my life, both lived in my greenhouse, not in the house.

    I am a true dog lover, so cats for me would not be sensible indoors with dogs too.

    I never bathed a cat in my life, and have no intentions of doing so, I don't really trust them too much :)

    Please let us know when you get your tests back. I am interested in what you find out. Lets hope there is something that can be done about it if thats what caused your health problem.

    Shalom, Shirl

    PS. I just email what you wrote here to my daughter, she is still big on cats, and yes, she is forever taking in strays and giving them baths (your name was deleted)!

    [This Message was Edited on 06/12/2003]
  3. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    I've been around cats all my life and so have my kids. We never had ringworm, but who knows what we did get from them.

    BTW, reptiles can carry samonella and other things, so be careful around them too.

    Love, Mikie
  4. RedB

    RedB New Member

    As a person who also had ringworm from just one of the 25+ stray animals we have taken in through the years, I don't want people to run scared on these topics. We have more to fear from the tiny ticks and mosquitoes that live in our yards. Here's some info:


    The name ringworm survives from antiquity, when doctors thought that this round rash was indeed caused by a worm. Now we know that this common skin infection has nothing at all to do with worms, but it can have something to do with pets!

    What is it?
    Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin. Fungi are tiny plants that survive by eating plant or animal material. The ringworm fungi feed on keratin, the material found in the outer layer of skin, hair, and nails. These fungi thrive best on skin that is moist, hot, and hidden from the light. When this infection is found on the feet, it is commonly called athlete's foot; when it is found in the groin, it is commonly called jock itch; and when it is found on the body, it is still called ringworm.

    Who gets it?
    Up to 20 percent of the population has one of these infections at any given moment. To catch ringworm, you have to be exposed to it and you have to be susceptible. Some people are much more susceptible than others. Those with eczema or other skin problems get ringworm more easily because the protective barrier of the skin's outer layer is less intact. Children are more susceptible before puberty. Boys get it more easily than girls. Some people are genetically predisposed and can get it easily throughout life.

    What are the symptoms?
    The classic ringworm rash begins as a dry, raised, round patch, which may be slightly red. The patch may also be somewhat itchy. As it grows, the center of the patch clears, leaving a ring-like appearance. Not all children display this central clearing. In fact, there is wide variability in the way ringworm can appear from person to person.

    Is it contagious?
    Ringworm is very mildly contagious. Ringworm can be caught from other humans, both by direct contact and by prolonged contact with flakes of shed skin (from sharing clothes or from house dust, for instance). Wrestlers commonly spread it back and forth with their sweaty contact (tinea gladiatorum!).

    It can be caught from domestic animals (especially dogs and cats), as well as most farm animals. The infection can be caught from the animal directly, or from anything the animal rubs against.

    How long does it last?
    Without treatment, most cases of ringworm would disappear on their own within several months, but they can become chronic.

    Ringworm symptoms usually disappear quickly with treatment, but the treatment should be continued for two to four weeks to eliminate all of the fungus."


    The uncovering of the cause of cat-scratch fever (now called cat-scratch disease) has been one of the great mystery stories of modern medicine. The hallmarks of cat-scratch disease are enlarged, tender lymph nodes (especially in the armpit) found under toughened, warm, red skin. For centuries children have often had these symptoms with no known cause. For centuries children have played with cats and been scratched, but no connection was made.

    In 1946, a Dr. Hanger in New York, the owner of a "ferocious tiger," got what appeared to be an infected hangnail and then a swollen, tender lymph node full of pus under his collarbone. His friend, Dr. Rose, drained the pus from the lymph node -- but to their surprise, the pus was found to be sterile (containing no germs). They re-injected Dr. Hanger with some of this material, under the skin of his arm, and he had a strong skin reaction (sort of like a TB skin test, but this was a tiger-claw skin test).

    Then, across the Atlantic in 1950 Paris, a 6-year-old French boy was observed to have a swollen, tender lymph node near the site of a scratch from a house cat. His physician, Dr. Debre, obtained some of the Hanger/Rose material (which he actually got from the University of Cincinnati where microbiologists were now trying to figure out this stuff). He injected some of the material under the Parisian boy's skin, and the boy developed a positive skin-test reaction!

    This was the first documented case of what they called "La maladie des griffes de chat." Over the next several years the international collaboration continued, and cat-scratch fever was defined as a specific disease. A positive skin test in someone with swollen lymph nodes, who had been exposed to a cat, was considered to make the diagnosis.

    When I entered medical school, cat-scratch disease was still a mystery. We knew that it happened after cat scratches, and it seemed that it must be caused by some type of bacteria, but no bacteria had ever been found in those swollen lymph nodes. Then, while I was in my second year of medical school, very tiny proteobacteria were seen in early cat-scratch lymph nodes that had been stained with silver. An organism had been found!

    But what was it? Many possible identities were proposed and then disproved. When I was a pediatric intern, someone was finally able to grow the bacteria. The definitive pediatric infectious disease textbook (Feigin and Cherry -- a wonderful book) announced in the 1992 edition, "The bacterium that causes cat-scratch disease has been conclusively identified over the past decade...Afipia felis."

    I received my copy of the next edition of Feigin and Cherry in today's mail. It says, "further study has now discredited Afipia felis" as the cause of cat-scratch disease! Even as the previous edition was going to press, new DNA diagnostic techniques applied to cat-scratch disease in AIDS patients were providing a wealth of new information. Another bacterium -- Bartonella -- is now known to be the cause. "That Bartonella is the cause of cat-scratch disease now has been established beyond doubt."

    Times change.

    Most cat-scratch disease begins with a scratch from the claw or tooth of a kitten younger than six months of age. It can also be caught from an adult cat. In California, about 40% of the cats carry Bartonella. The disease seems to rarely occur following a dog scratch or even from porcupine quills or cactus spines. This is different, though, from an infected paper cut. Most cases of cat-scratch disease occur in children between the ages of 2 and 14, and in veterinarians (those most likely to be scratched by a cat). For reasons yet to be determined, most cases occur in the fall or winter months.

    Sometime between 3 and 30 days following the scratch (usually 7 to 12 days), the child breaks out with one or more pimples at the site of the scratch. These last for 1 to 4 weeks, until nearby lymph nodes begin to swell and become tender. Sometimes these will drain pus. Only about a third of kids will feel sick, with a fever, fatigue, decreased appetite, or headache. This is not a serious disease.

    Most of the time, the swollen lymph nodes last from 4 to 6 weeks, and then the child recovers fully. Occasionally, the swollen nodes can last for a year. Only rarely have complications been reported, mostly in immunocompromised individuals. Treatment is usually unnecessary, since people recover well on their own, but several antibiotics (such as Zithromax and Biaxin) have been shown to shorten the course of the illness.

    Diagnosis is now made by a blood test (or by biopsy, if other more serious conditions are suspected). The skin test is no longer performed, since it is less accurate and has now been shown to pass other known (and perhaps unknown?) diseases.

    The unfolding story of cat-scratch disease is a tale of mystery followed by mistaken certainty, followed again by mystery and then certainty. This twisting tale helps us to put medical knowledge in perspective. Our understanding of disease is truly amazing and is growing rapidly, BUT there is much that we do not know, and much that we now consider certain will one day prove to be in error. Acting based on the best of our knowledge will usually produce good results, but let's also act in humility before all that we don't understand!

    By the way, a new cat-scratch mystery has popped up. We know that Bartonella bacteria are present in the blood of cats and in the lymph nodes of infected humans. We also know that if infected kittens are housed with non-infected kittens, the Bartonella is not passed -- unless fleas are present. Fleas pass Bartonella from one cat to another. We don't believe that fleas pass Bartonella to humans, though, since the pimples occur in healing scratches, not in flea bites. (And almost all the people with the disease have been scratched by a cat, while only a few seem to have had flea bites at all).

    Surprisingly, though, multiple recent attempts to find even traces of the bacteria on the nail clippings of infected kittens have proven completely unsuccessful."

    Alan Greene MD FAAP

    November 10, 1997
    Reviewed by Khanh-Van Le-Bucklin MD August 2000


    P.S. Shirl, we have raised cats and dogs together for over 30 years, and they develop such wonderful, loving relationships. It's absolutely amazing how animals' love extends well beyond their own species.

    [This Message was Edited on 06/13/2003]
  5. dd

    dd New Member

    Hi All,

    I am not trying to give cats a bad rep here. I am a huge animal lover and still to this day have a cat, one dog and a household full of other little critters...all of which I consider part of the family and I love very much. If a stray cat showed up on my doorsteps today I would take it in and give it a loving home...that's just a part of who I am. My dog and my cat go to the vet yearly for their check-ups and shots. My lab, Thor, was a stray also. He found us 4 years ago and unfortunatley he now has cancer and will probably only be with us for at the most another year the vet says.

    I am not trying to scare anyone who has cats. I just wanted to let everyone know of one more possibility...as strange as it may seem...that a scratch or a bite from a cat could lead to serious health problems in persons that already have a predisposition to immune related illnesses. Cat saliva carries many bacterias and viruses. Cat scratches are also a lot worse than a dog scratch because when a cat scratches someone their claws go into the skin and do not usually have a lot of bleeding. Bleeding allows some of the bacteria to leave the body...but when it does not bleed then the bacteria is there in the body to do whatever harm it may do. Harm that we may not find out until years later. When I was diagnosed with CMV...Cytomegalo Virus a couple of years ago I was asked at that time if I owned a cat. I don't remember a time in my life that I did not have a cat...even as a child we had many cats. I am not saying that everyone that has ever been bitten or scratched or has had ringworm will come down sick.

    I have thought for the past 7 or 8 years that my problems started with the ringworm and even maybe from the bites and scratches that I got from my kitten. It's too ironic that just 3 months later is when I became so sick that I could barely move or get out of bed. I am not saying that this may be the only cause for our DD's....there are many I am sure. Most people do not have to be put on antibiotics when they get ringworm but in my family's case my son had it so bad that the ped doc put him on AB's...I probably should have had them too. Who knows, maybe this kitten was a carrier of something else besides the ringworm...we just don't know.

    Betsy - What type of test did you have done for the CSD and the Lyme? I had the blood test. Did you have any unusual symptoms besides fatigue and swollen lymph nodes? What type of treatment are you getting.

    Thank you all for your replies and please don't get rid of your cats. Just be careful and if you have been bit, scratched or had ringworm please get checked.



  6. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    I always thought it healthy to expose my girls to cats early on so that if they got toxoplasmosis, it would happen at an early age and not when they got pregnant later on. Most kids exposed to cat litter boxes will get toxoplasmosis early on and get over it. If a woman gets it during pregnancy, it can greatly harm the child who may go for years with it lying latent in the system. At some point, it can activate and cause horrible complications.

    Now, with all the stealth infections we have, I have to wonder if getting toxoplasmosis at an early age is as benign as we were led to believe.

    BTW, our cats and dogs were always friends too.

    Love, Mikie
  7. Ellie

    Ellie New Member

    Twice in my life I have had a cat bite and both times it was not her fault just scared and she bit me. I went both times to the ER and the first time had to be admited for iv antibiotics and had the bite cut open to drain. THe second one was a couple of months ago and they had to cut open the bite and leave it open to drain. Please don't play around with cat bites they can be dabgerous for us. I get infected almost within hours of the bite even tho I clean it and seek treatment. I have 5 cats just took in a Momma kitty and her two kits last week. Just be careful. Aloha Ellie
  8. tulip922s

    tulip922s New Member

    I never thought about this much, but, I have had CFS/FM twice. The first time in 1993 and I recovered fully after 8 months. The second time was 2001 and I am still ill. Both times I had ringworm prior to the onset.

    My theory and please keep in mind this is only my theory, is that ringworm is a fungus that is treated and goes away,,,but, does it really go away completely? I think it may stay in the body keeping under check by our immune systems,,,,similiar to EBV that remains with us once exposed by kept under check by a healthy immune system. Does that make sense to anyone?

    I too have been around cats all my life and playfully fool around with them with my hand. I will have to seriously rethink this if there is so much danger in cat saliva. I had no idea.

    This ringworm thing sure has me wondering. Thanks for the post. Tulip
  9. Shirl

    Shirl New Member

    I will tell you my 'cat' story on the Chit Chat board, if you are interested. It does not belong on this board.

    Shalom, Shirl
  10. FibroNan

    FibroNan New Member

    and I have always had at least one cat (I have 2 now). My cats are indoors all the time and never get outside to be exposed to diseases, fleas, ticks etc. I've never had ringworm or cat scratch fever or any kind of cat related illness and I am absolutely certain that cats did NOT play any role in my fibro.
  11. Jinx69

    Jinx69 New Member

    I think cats are getting a bum rap here...LOL I have 2 cats and 2 dogs. The dogs are allowed outside. The cats must stay indoors. The vet said that there are too many bugs outside for cats to get, especially with rabbits and other animals roaming from yard to yard. The vet said that viruses/bacteria live on the grass alot longer than on a side walk.

    I've had CFS for ages, way before my animal parenting days started. I couldn't live without my animals now! They are definitely a positive force in my fight with CFS.

    I agree with Fibro Nan.

  12. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    And I think the give us more love than we could ever get anywhere else. I also think they have a healing effect on us.

    That said, I think it behooves us to know that animals can carry disease. It used to be thought that it was impossible for viruses to be passed from animals to humans. That is why many vaccines are produce using animal tissue. Now, we know that is not true. It is believed that the SARS outbreak may be a virus passed from animals to humans. The current Monkeypox outbreak is believed to be caused by infected pet prairie dogs.

    We do need to be careful with our animals. My kids in Atlanta find ticks on my granddog after she comes in from outside. She has been medicated and the ticks will die if they bite her, but how many of the ticks are transferred to humans from animals?

    I'm not saying we should get rid of our beloved pets or be afraid of having pets, including cats, but a little caution is a good thing. BTW, when I had cats, they were indoor pets after I learned about the dangers of letting cats roam free. My last cat was trained to a leash and eventually would just stay with me on short walks.

    Love, Mikie
  13. Jinx69

    Jinx69 New Member

    Hey, Mikie!

    Your cat's really lucky! I bet that's fun! I do agree we have to be careful with animals, or anything for that matter.

    I live in the city where the monkey pox virus started, and today they had their first case of human to human spread. Not good. However, it was mentioned that it is a slowly developing disease, and shouldn't spread too much.

    But we all know doctors don't always say what they mean ;-0
  14. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    Yeah, my beloved Mr. Big was called the Yuppie Cat by a friend of mine. He had a lovely soft-side carrying case, his own set of very nice dishes, ate only the best cat food, and drank only filtered or bottled water.

    Unfortunately, he died at the ripe old age of 18, six months after I moved to FL. He was quite mellow and would allow me to examine him for any kind of vermin after we returned home. I think it's important for animals to be trained from a young age to allow themselves to be thoroughly examined.

    Love, Mikie
  15. scottabir

    scottabir New Member

    My cat whom I adopted in December of 2001 has had ringworm since the day I broiught her home. She is still battling it but she is slowly winning! She has been in a cage for almost 1/2 her life.

    However, I had CFS/FM before she ever came into my life so I know she wasn't the cause of mine. I did however have ringworm once when I was 7. Only one spot though.

    I was raised on a goat farm for the first few years of my life and I remember always having at least one cat. I guess its something to keep in mind.

  16. Shirl

    Shirl New Member

    That is surely not the case, I have taken in animals from all walks of the animal kingdom!

    Before I moved out to the country, whenever one of the neighborhood kids found a stray, it went to Miss Shirl's house.

    I have had everything from a wild rabbit (that I nursed back to health and released him in the woods), ferrets, wild birds that were ill, nursed them and returned them back in the woods too, domesticated rabbits, one lived in the house with the dogs for 8 years.

    Birds, a parrot that found 'me' in my backyard, a spider monkey. Two cats, one from the woods, the other was being abused by a child, and I gladly took him in. So many dogs that I truly could not count them now. Some I found homes for others I kept till they died of natural causes.

    I was partically raised on a dairy farm, so animals were a way of life. I even had an old race horse that no one wanted!

    I do not think my illness is in anyway related to any of them.

    I am a fanatic, I always washed my hands after handling anything animals included.

    I was bit five times (still have the scares) by a wild dog, no he did not have rabies.

    None of these animals ever bit or scratched me. I did not wash cats, I think they are the cleanest animal I have ever seen except for a rabbit.

    One of the cats, and she was a bit on the wild side, had to have a rootcanal, cost me $100.00! She is still living with my daughter now, she is all of 20 years old. Her hearing is gone, but she is still hanging in there.

    Like Mikie said, you simply have to follower the rules, and be careful.

    I got FM after a bout with pneumonia, nothing to do with the animals.

    As for those poor little prarie dogs, I do not think they should be kept as pets, poor darlings belong in the wild not in a cage. I like to have died when I heard how they 'catch' them with a suction machine in their little holes. Horrible to say the least.

    In the last two years, I found one dog on the side of the road in a deeply wooded area, she had more bugs on her than I had ever seen in my life. She was about 4 weeks old, took her to a vet, got her wormed and dipped. She is two years old now and beautiful.

    NO, I am not afraid of catching anything from animals, if you have cats, dogs etc. Just do what is necessary to be safe.

    Animals are good for the soul, and a tremendous help to most of us that are ill, they give us a reason to keep going on.................

    Shalom, Shirl

  17. natrlvr2

    natrlvr2 New Member

    I got a stray kitten from the vet almost acouple yrs. ago.And the whole next yr. my entire family(me,my son,other cat and my dog) battled ringworm off and on for a whole year.The vet said he never saw such a bad case of this ever.It kept coming back.(I already had my ailments before this though)My pets took pills,and my son and I had to keep going back to the Dr. because the ointments/salves we were getting were not strong enough.We did everything right to get the virus out of our house.EVERY time we touched a pet,we washed out hands,I vaccumed every other day(cleaned bag too),washed entire house(curtains,etc. even)the whole house was disinfected 5 times and it still kept coming back.This kitten had ALOT of problems from day one,alot of worms and parasites.It cost me a fortune on medication(not happy that the vet never tested for any of this before I took it home)It was sheer HELL!It is finally GONE(about 8 months now).My sickly kitten is now a HUGE/fat cat.It weighs more than my dog.(medium size terrier/beagle)
  18. Dara

    Dara New Member

    but I remember when my daughter was going through Chemo her oncologist & infectious disease doctors told her she could not be around any pets, not even her own. Her in-laws took the dogs and kept them while she was on chemo because her immune system was nil.

    I have heard that it is the saliva from a cat that causes allergies to cats, not the dander from the skin like I always thought.

    I would be lost without at least one dog and one cat, sometimes more.


    PS-I know this might be "off topic", but since we're discussing Cats - have any of you grown a Catnip plant? I bought one the other day from Petco but can't find any planting instructions for it.