A 23-year-old man was left unable to get an erection after he was scratched by a cat, a bizarre case study has revealed.
The unidentified patient, from Belgium, was injured by the claws of a feline in his own home – but it is unknown how.
As well as the inability to make love, he endured pain in his testicles, a fever and intense sweating at night before visiting hospital.
Doctors discovered he had ‘cat-scratch disease’ after various tests. It is caused by a bacteria called Bartonella henselae found in the mouth and claws of cats.
It causes fever, fatigue, headaches, and swollen lymph nodes. In extreme cases it can even cause deadly brain swelling and heart infections.
A course of antibiotics cleared up the infection and the man’s erection returned.
The unidentified patient, from Belgium, was scratched by a cat in his own home (stock)
Why did it cause erectile dysfunction?
The infection’s link to erectile dysfunction has been relatively scarce until the new case, revealed by doctors in BMJ Case Reports.
They were unable to state how the bug caused his loss in erection ability, however, pointed to previous cases that triggered facial paralysis.
They said this same biological mechanism could have triggered his erectile dysfunction and testicular pain.
On further questioning, it was confirmed that the patient was recently scratched by a young cat at home, experts wrote.
Doctors at the Clinique Saint-Pierre Ottignies, a hospital 40 minutes south of Brussels, gave the patient a course of antibiotics for three weeks.
‘The symptoms quickly vanished and he fully regained his erectile function,’ the team of medics said in the journal.
‘In this case the patient was unable to provoke erection despite his will even during periods of calm symptoms.’
How prevalent is cat scratch disease?
Official figures suggest around 12,000 Americans succumb to cat scratch disease each year. It is unsure how many Britons develop the infection.
Watchdogs have previously warned that cat bites and scratches can be ‘devastating in terms of infection and permanent disability’ if left untreated.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE BITTEN
Clean the wound immediately by running warm tap water over it for a couple of minutes, even if the skin does not appear broken.
Remove any dirt or foreign objects from the wound.
Encourage the wound to bleed slightly by gentle squeezing (unless already bleeding freely).
If there is heavy bleeding, place a clean pad or sterile dressing over wound and apply pressure.
Dry the wound and cover with a clean dressing or plaster.
Seek medical advice unless the wound is very minor.
For severe wounds, go to A&E.
While dogs are responsible for the vast majority of animals bites, ones from cats are twice as likely to become infected, it is believed.
Why are cat bites more serious?
Felines tend to create puncture wound, injecting bacteria deep into human tissue. But dogs cause a more open wound with tissue damage.
It comes after a study in December revealed that owning a cat could have some serious implications on your sexual preferences.
The research, by scientists at Charles University in Prague, suggested that having a pet cat could be linked to a love BDSM.
This is because Toxoplasma gondii – a common feline brain parasite that causes toxoplasmosis in humans – has been linked to sexual arousal from fear and danger.
Official figures show that around 350,000 Britons suffer such infections every year. More than 30 million Americans carry the bug.
A woman nearly licked to death
The new case follows the tale of an elderly British woman who became critically ill after her dog licked her and triggered sepsis.
The unidentified patient, 70, ended up in intensive care with multiple organ failure after contracting a rare infection from her Italian greyhound.