Woman suffers severe vision loss after mysterious 'cat-scratch' infection

Josh Dutton
·News Reporter
·1-min read

A woman has suffered “severe vision loss” after being around a number of cats.

The woman, 55, from New Zealand went to doctors complaining of “blurry vision and pain in the right eye” for a number of days, according to her case in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“An ocular examination revealed severe vision loss (she could only count fingers), a relative afferent pupillary defect, and reduced colour vision in the right eye,” researchers wrote.

A swollen, damaged eye of a woman aged 55.
Parts of the woman's eye were swollen which doctors put down to a bacterial infection. Source: NEJM

Doctors found a “swollen optic nerve” along with other issues suggesting the woman had bartonella infection.

“Bartonella henselae is the causative agent of cat scratch disease; in the current case, the patient had been exposed to cats but recalled no recent scratch,” researchers wrote.

The woman was given antibiotics and eye drops.

“The macular edema, nerve swelling, and relative afferent pupillary defect resolved, and the patient regained visual acuity of 20/80 in the right eye,” researchers wrote.

Bartonella henesale cases have been well documented.

In 2019, it emerged a boy, 14, was suffering psychotic episodes after the bacteria entered his bloodstream.

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