A teenager was left to commit suicide after taking an infection from his cat that scratched him.
The boy, whose name was not revealed, was hospitalized four times during 18 months, believing that he was an "evil, damned devil's son".
The doctors diagnosed the healthy, otherwise healthy 14-year-old who had had suicidal thoughts and feared that his cat would kill him – with rapid-onset schizophrenia.
His illness progressed, leaving him with hallucinations, irrational fears and outbursts of anger, until his mother had to leave work to take care of him.
During an 11-week stay in the hospital, extensive tests were performed on the boy, who did not respond to the usual treatments.
A doctor has recognized signs on his skin related to "cat scratch disease", caused by a bacterium called Bartonella henselae which is found in the mouth and claws of cats.
A teenager who spent nearly two years in psychosis was suspected of having schizophrenia, but actually had a Bartonella infection from cat scratches. Photographs taken by parents in February 2017, about seven months after their parents sighted them
The patient tested positive for the infection and, after a series of antibiotics, made a full recovery, the doctors at North Carolina State University revealed.
The Bartonella infection is known to "hide" in the linings of blood vessels, but untreated can have devastating consequences.
It has caused a number of diseases, ranging from to fatigue fever, and in extreme cases can lead to deadly brain swelling and heart infections.
The researchers, writing in the Journal of Central Nervous Disease, said that this rare case was interesting for a number or reasons.
The dott. Ed Breitschwerdt, lead author of the case report, said: "This case is interesting for a number of reasons.
In addition to suggesting that the infection itself could contribute to schizophrenia, it raises the question of how often the infection may be involved in general with psychiatric disorders.
The talented boy, who owned many pets, was suddenly struck in October 2015 by symptoms including feeling overwhelmed, confused, depressed and agitated.
He also expressed a desire to take his own life due to intrusive thoughts about killing his family.
He was hospitalized for urgent psychiatric hospitalization and discharged a week later.
But he soon became more dysfunctional and was unable to go to school because of his severe psychiatric symptoms.
The report said: "In addition to the persecutory disappointments related to his pets, he developed auditory, visual and tactile hallucinations and began to refuse to leave the house."
In December 2015, her mother quit her job to provide full-time supervision, but was soon back in a psychiatric hospital.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO IF YOU'RE BEING MADE BY ANIMAL?
Immediately clean the wound by sliding the hot tap water onto it for a couple of minutes, even if the skin does not appear broken.
Remove dirt or foreign objects from the wound.
Encourage the wound to bleed slightly by pressing gently (unless it bleeds freely).
In case of intense bleeding, place a clean swab or sterile dressing on the wound and apply pressure.
Dry the wound and cover with a dressing or clean plaster.
Consult a doctor unless the wound is very mild.
For serious injuries, go to A & E.
At home, he developed excessive fatigue, daily headaches, chest pains, shortness of breath – perhaps panic anxiety – and a constant need to urinate.
The media team was disoriented when a long list of treatments for psychosis and other possible causes of symptoms such as an autoimmune condition were ineffective.
Drug withdrawal symptoms were also traumatic: the boy experienced severe anorexia, nausea and vomiting, which resulted in hospitalization and a weight loss of 20.5 kg (40 pounds) for almost six weeks.
In the summer of 2016 he was hospitalized for 11 weeks in a large psychiatric hospital outside the state where numerous tests were carried out.
When he returned home, still unwell, his parents noticed the marks on his skin around his armpit and thigh – about ten months after the beginning of the initial symptoms.
At the beginning of 2017 a doctor connected the points and the blood tests revealed that there was, in effect, an infection of the bacteria present in the cat.
At the end of the year, after losing two years of school, the boy had returned to his normalcy.
Until recently it was thought that Bartonella was a short-lived infection.
But guard dogs have warned that cat bites and scratches can be "devastating in terms of infection and permanent disability" if not treated.
There are at least 30 different known species of Bartonella and 13 of these have been found to infect humans.
Official figures indicate that every year about 12,000 Americans succumb to cat scratch disease. It is not sure how many Britons develop the infection.
The man failed to get an erection after being scratched by his cat
A 23-year-old man was unable to get an erection after being scratched by a cat, a bizarre case study revealed last September.
The unidentified patient from Belgium was injured by the claws of a feline in his own home – but no one knows how.
In addition to the inability to make love, he endured pain in his testicles, fever and intense sweating at night before visiting the hospital.
Doctors have discovered they have a "cat scratch disease" after various tests. It is caused by bacteria called Bartonella henselae found in the mouth and claws of cats.
Causes fever, fatigue, headache and swollen lymph nodes. In extreme cases it can even cause a fatal brain swelling and heart infections.
A course of antibiotics has cleared up the infection and erection of man has returned.
The binding of the infection to erectile dysfunction was relatively scarce until the new case, revealed by the doctors in the BMJ case reports.
They were unable to state how the insect caused his loss in erection capacity, however, he indicated previous cases that triggered facial paralysis.
They said that this same biological mechanism could trigger his erectile dysfunction and testicular pain.