Woman goes blind in one eye after her cat licks her

TOLEDO, OH (KTRK) -- A woman says her pet cat made her go blind in one eye.

"I woke up one day and I couldn't see out of my left eye," Janese Walters told WTOL-TV. "I looked in the mirror and I thought I had pink eye or something."

Soon, she couldn't see at all out of that eye. Doctors later told her she had something called Cat Scratch Disease. It's a rare condition caused by bacteria passed to humans from cats through their saliva or fur.

"Anything that is exposed to the cat's mouth, including if you have a little scratch that the cat licks - that's how you can get it," Dr. Kris Brickman told WTOL-TV.

According to the Cat Scratch Disease Fact Sheet, symptoms usually appear within two weeks of being exposed. The most common symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and poor appetite. Blindness can happen, but it is rare. You're more likely to get it if you already have a compromised immune system.

Infected fleas pass Cat Scratch Disease from cat to cat. It cannot be passed from human to human.

The Fact Sheet says cat owners can protect themselves by doing the following:
  • Maintain excellent flea and tick control.
  • Avoid rough play with cats.
  • Don't allow a cat to lick an open wound on your body
  • Wash the site of a bite or scratch with soap and water.
  • Adopt or buy cats that don't have fleas.

"Basically, go play with your cats, but wash your hands afterwards," Brickman told WTOL-TV. "Don't let them lick any open wounds, and try not to get bit by any cat."
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