A 14-year-old American was treated for schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder, but only two years later it was discovered that the domestic cat was the cause of everything. It turned out that the cause of the symptoms was the bacterium Bartonella henselae, which infiltrated the baby's blood through the scratches of the animal's claws.
The teenager, whose name did not reveal the doctors, lived with his parents in a country house, was sociable and active. He studied well, won in geography and history competitions, he also acted in scholastic theater and worked in fencing. However, in October 2015, something suddenly happened to the young man: he began to feel overwhelmed, depressed and agitated, he began to have hallucinations, flashes of anger, disappointments, thoughts of murder and suicide. "He said he was" a damned, damned son of the devil "and wanted to commit suicide because he was afraid of new thoughts about the murder of his loved ones," the article said in a description of this incident, published in Journal of Central Nervous System Disease.
The frightened parents went with their son to the hospital, where he was hospitalized with a diagnosis of "major depressive disorder with psychotic symptoms". However, a week later the child was discharged – homicide thoughts passed, but the remaining psychotic symptoms remained.
The doctors were looking for the background of the disease in the patient's family history. There was something to take into consideration: there were cases of depression, alcohol abuse, gambling addiction, attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity, and a host of other illnesses in the family from both parts. However, none of this was similar to the symptoms the boy suffered from. He himself had never suffered from anything special before, except in the case of burns with poison ivy and mycoplasma infection with bacteria, which had been treated with antibiotics.
By December 2015, the symptoms had progressed so far that the mother had to leave her job to take care of the teenager, while developing auditory, tactile and visual hallucinations. The boy began to fear leaving the house, he had thoughts of possessing a super strength, and the domestic cat wanted to kill him. The symptoms were chronic fatigue, headache and frequent urination. He was hospitalized three more times and schizophrenia was diagnosed. They tried to treat it with antipsychotics, antidepressants, mood stabilizers and antibiotics: a total of 27 different drugs were tested on the patient. The syndromes of psychosis sometimes became less common, but did not go away. A blood test for inflammatory biomarkers, EEG and MRI did not reveal to doctors.
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In August 2016, the boy was shown a new doctor, who suggested suffering from autoimmune encephalitis. This disease develops due to the fact that the body starts producing antibodies against its own nerve cells. The symptoms of autoimmune encephalitis can actually be a variety of psychoses. The new treatment has helped, but not for long.
Finally, in 2017, the parents noticed the strange stretch marks on the hips and under the arms of the boy and showed him to a new doctor. After learning that the boy had played with cats shortly before the infection, the doctor suggested that he was talking about neurobartonellosis caused by bacteria. Bartonella henselae. These bacteria live on the walls of blood vessels and in the cerebrospinal fluid and can cause infection with various neurological symptoms. Such infections are called cat fever. In children and adolescents, infection is usually more difficult.
The parents appealed at the University of North Carolina, where the boy was examined by scientists, along with the treating physicians. The experts analyzed the patient's serum, conducted the PCR, and then the DNA material obtained from the serum was sequenced. In fact, bacteria have been found in the blood. Bartonella henselae.
Teen started to be treated with a complex of antibiotics, antifungal drugs and headache medications. He recovered, although in June 2017, after the sudden cancellation of clozapine (antipsychotic) and tramadol (analgesic), he suffered from severe anorexia, nausea and vomiting, was hospitalized again and lost 20.5 kg of weight in 40 days. But doctors were able to overcome these symptoms.
Finally, by October 2017, the boy was completely cured. Although he lost almost two years of school, by the spring of 2018, the teenager was able to recover. By September 2018, he returned to all the usual things, often communicates with peers, earns money in a restaurant and, as his parents believe, completely recovered.