Skin Rashes Caused by Cats

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Skin Rashes Caused by Cats
Cats are playful, but sharp claws can tramsmit bacteria. (I love cats image by Allyson Ricketts from

Cats and humans normally keep their diseases to themselves. If you've ever been licked affectionately or scratched accidentally and got a rash, you've been infected by one of the few diseases that can be transmitted to a human from a feline. Cats can pick up diseases from litter boxes, contaminated soil, other cats or fleas and ticks. If you come into contact with an infected cat, you risk contracting a disease. But by using caution, you can prevent an infection, according to Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

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Indoor Cats

Cat scratch fever or disease does not cause a distinct rash (or a fever), but the scratch site may become red.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is transmitted by ticks, producing a rash that can spread across the wrists, palms, ankles, soles and trunk of the body. The disease is common in the south central and the mid-south regions of the United States. Physicians treat it with antibiotics.

Cats with toxoplasmosis pick up the parasite on their paws from their litter box. Infected humans may develop a rash accompanied by fatigue, muscle pain, sore throat, fever or swollen lymph glands. Healthy people may show no symptoms, but pregnant women risk a miscarriage or premature birth, and newborns risk severe illness or blindness. Pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems from HIV or cancer should not come in contact with litter boxes.

Outdoor Cats

Outdoor cats can pick up germs from contact with the ground, fleas or infected animals. Ringworm is a skin infection caused by a mix of fungi found in the soil that passing cats can contract. Ringworm creates a dry, scaly round area on the skin with a rash-like red, uneven, swollen border and a clear centre. Physicians prescribe anti-fungal cream, shampoo or oral medicines for ringworm. Toxocariasis comes from the parasitic roundworm Toxocara. Infected cats' stools contaminate the ground, and cats picked up the worms' eggs. The eggs hatch in the human intestine. This causes a visceral larva migrans infection, which can appear as a rash, as well as swollen lymph nodes, fever, cough or wheezing and an enlarged liver. These can go away by themselves or with medicines that kill the larvae. According to Kidshealth, larvae that get to the eye through the bloodstream can cause permanent loss of vision.

An itchy skin disease that comes from contact with hookworm-contaminated soil is called cutaneous larva migrans.


Wash hands after handling cats or cleaning their litter boxes. Scoop litter boxes daily, and clean with scalding water and detergent periodically, the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine suggests.

Don't let small children, especially those with HIV or cancer or who use prednisone frequently, play with kittens or roughly with older cats. Use flea and tick control, and keep outdoor sandboxes covered.

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