An Ohio woman has gone blind in her left eye after her cat licked her and transmitted an infection called cat scratch disease (CSD), fox8.com reported.
Janese Walters told TV station WTOL in Toledo that she initially thought she had pink eye, but when she told doctors she owns a cat, they immediately suspected the condition.
“Anything that is exposed to the cat’s mouth— including if you have a little scratch that the cat licks— that’s how you get it,” University of Toledo doctor Kris Brickman told WTOL. He added that while “cat scratch” doesn’t pose a health risk to felines, it can to humans.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CSD can affect the brain, eyes, heart or other internal organs. Although serious complications from the disease are rare, they may require intensive treatment. Cases are most common among children younger than age 5 and among people with weakened immune systems.
Brickman advised cat owners to wash their hands after playing with their pets. He said 40 percent of cats carry the bacteria that leads to CSD.
“Don’t let [cats] lick any open wounds, and try not to get bit by any cat,” he added.
Walters didn’t know what CSD was prior to being diagnosed, but she said she hopes her story causes other cat owners to take caution.
“You don’t want to lose your eyesight,” she said.