A CAT scratch left one teenager feeling suicidal and believing he was the “son of the devil”, doctors have warned.
The unnamed 14-year-old suffered hallucinations, violent outbursts and thought about killing his family after catching a mind-altering bug from the moggy.
Journal of Central Nervous Disease A teenager was left suffering suicidal thoughts and believing he was the ‘devil’s son’ after he was scratched by a cat
The boy was hospitalised four times in 18 months, believing he was an “evil, damned son of the devil”.
He was plagued by excruciating headaches, chest pains, shortness of breath, as well as a constant need to pee.
The boy first showed signs of being unwell in October 2015, when he became agitated, violent, confused and depressed.Docs baffled when psychosis treatment failed
Doctors initially diagnosed the teen with rapid onset schizophrenia.
But when all standard treatments for psychosis and various autoimmune conditions failed, doctors were left stumped.
Then, one medic treating the boy noticed he had a series of lesions on his skin.
Bartonella infection itself could contribute to progressive neuropsychiatric disorders like schizophreniaDr Ed Breitschwerdt, North Carolina State University
Recognising it as a sign of the rare bug, bartonella henselae, the boy was sent for more tests.
The tests came back positive, confirming the teenager had caught the infection, which mimics other chronic illnesses.
Dr Ed Breitschwerdt, at North Carolina State University, said: “This case is interesting for a number of reasons.
“Beyond suggesting that Bartonella infection itself could contribute to progressive neuropsychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, it raises the question of how often infection may be involved with psychiatric disorders generally.
“Researchers are starting to look at things like infection’s roles in Alzheimer’s disease, for example.
“Beyond this one case, there’s a lot of movement in trying to understand the potential role of viral and bacterial infections in these medically complex diseases.
“This case gives us proof that there can be a connection, and offers an opportunity for future investigations.”Cat-sratch bug could be linked to nasty chronic illnesses
Bartonella is a bacteria that’s most commonly associated with cat scratch disease, which until recently was thought to be a short-lived infection.
There are around 30 different species of Bartonella known to scientists, and 13 have been found to infect human beings.
The bug is notorious for “hiding” in the linings of blood vessels.
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But testing has shown it has infected patients with chronic illnesses, from migraines and seizures to rheumatoid illnesses – conditions medics have previously not been able to link to a specific cause.
The boy in this case was treated with antimicrobial chemotherapy, and fully recovered.
In 2017, another case report detailed what happened to an unlucky bloke who ended up unable to get an erection after being scratched by a cat, due to the same infection.
The new findings were published in the Journal of Central Nervous System Disease.
If you or a loved one experiences suicidal thoughts, call the Samaritans helpline free on 116 123.
Journal of Central Nervous Disease The boy was hospitalised four times before doctors realised he had caught Bartonella from a cat