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Ophthalmology. 1998 Jun;105(6):1024-31.

Retinal and choroidal manifestations of cat-scratch disease.

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Department of Ophthalmology, USF Eye Institute, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA.



The ability to diagnose cat-scratch disease (CSD) has been facilitated greatly by the recent isolation and characterization of Bartonella henselae (formerly genus Rochalimaea) and Afipia felis and by the subsequent development of specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) serologic tests. This study will help define the patterns of posterior segment ocular involvement in patients with confirmed CSD.


The study design is a retrospective case study and literature review.


Two consecutive patients with acute visual loss from retinal manifestations of CSD participated.


The diagnosis was confirmed by B. henselae ELISA testing. Patients underwent extensive medical and ophthalmic investigations to exclude other causes of retinal and choroidal disease. Ophthalmic investigation included fluorescein angiography and visual field testing. One patient received antibiotic therapy with cefotaxime, then with ciprofloxacin, and was treated with oral prednisone. The other patient was improving for several weeks before oral doxycycline was given.


The clinical syndromes observed were studied over time using visual acuity, visual field, and clinical findings. Data were collated with cases from the literature.


Unilateral neuroretinitis and an unusual macular retinitis developed in patient 1, as did bilateral small intraretinal white spots and a unilateral choroidal infiltrate that continued to develop while the patient received antibiotic treatment. Patient 2 had a branch arteriolar occlusion in relation to a perivascular retinal infiltrate and a few small, bilateral, intraretinal white spots. There was gradual resolution with visual improvement while the patient received the antibiotic treatment, although therapeutic efficacy could not be determined. Patient 1 also received oral corticosteroids. A detailed analysis of the literature placed these findings in context.


An unusual, well-defined retinal opacification with features of both multiple retinal arteriolar occlusions and a low-grade retinitis was described. Several features also may occur in posterior segment CSD, including neuroretinitis, a retinal white spot syndrome, and focal choroiditis.

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