A teenager who thought he had special powers and that his cat was trying to kill him was treated in vain for schizophrenia for 18 months – until the doctors noticed his stretch marks.
His psychotropic drug was mistaken for antimicrobial therapies and hallucinations, homicidal thoughts and psychotic symptoms disappeared as quickly as they appeared, along with the signs.
The fourteen year old suffered from Bartonella infection, more commonly known as cat scratch disease.
The extremely rare diagnosis was described in detail in a new case study published in the Journal of Central Nervous System Disease this week.
The studio didn't mention the boy, saying only that he came from the Midwest.
The protagonist of a school play and passionate fencer, the boy had been a healthy and active person with excellent grades.
But unexpectedly, in October 2015, he developed psychiatric symptoms including feeling overwhelmed, confused, depressed and agitated. He said he wanted to kill himself because he feared he had become an "evil, damned devil's son", having murderous thoughts about his loved ones.
He was hospitalized and an antipsychotic addict. He was released a week later, still "a little psychotic but no longer suicidal or homicidal", according to the case study.
But a few weeks later, the symptoms returned. He could no longer attend school due to obsessive intrusive thoughts, phobias, irrational fears, emotional lability, unpredictable outbursts of anger and increased psychotic thinking.
"He believed he had special powers and a family cat wanted to kill him," the report said.
He was so paranoid about pets – which later turned out to be the probable cause of his condition – that the family had to get rid of all of them.
A range of meditations, treatments and diagnostic theories failed to help as his symptoms continued.
& # 39; Stretch Marks & # 39;
His parents had noticed skin "stretch marks" on his body in August 2016, causing tests for the autoimmune disease, which came out empty.
At that time two psychiatrists had diagnosed him with schizophrenia and he had already been treated with different psychotropic drugs including antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, antidepressants and benzodiazepines, often in combination with other pharmacological agents.
Several months later, another doctor saw skin lesions and wondered if they could be caused by Bartonella infections. Eventually the boy was tested, tested positive and recovered the treatment.
"Bartonella is a bacterium most commonly associated with cat scratch disease, which was thought to be a short-lived (or self-limiting) infection until recently," a statement from North Carolina State University said. , where the case was studied.
"There are at least 30 different known species of Bartonella, and 13 of these have been found to infect humans."
The bacterium is known to "hide" in the linings of blood vessels and is known to cause a series of symptoms, from migraine to convulsions to rheumatic diseases.
"This case is interesting for a number of reasons," said lead author Dr. Ed Breitschwerd in a statement. "In addition to suggesting that Bartonella infection itself could contribute to progressive neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, raises the question of how often the infection may be involved with psychiatric disorders in general."
"Researchers are starting to look at things like the role of infections in Alzheimer's disease, for example. Beyond this case, there is a lot of movement in trying to understand the potential role of viral and bacterial infections in these diseases clinically complex. "
The case study did not specify exactly how he was infected, but noted that two cats were adopted as strays in 2010, one of which had an open wound on his back that required treatment.
"The boy had sustained cat bites and scratches before the onset of the disease," according to the study.
But the case study notes that although the story had a good ending, they paid the price along the way during his 2-year illness.
"In addition to the daily stress induced by her illness among all family members, the mother quit her job to provide home care and the pets were removed from the house (due to the boy's disappointments)."