Health: Teenager thinks that his cat wants to kill him - How dangerous the animal really was

Health: Teenager thinks that his cat wants to kill him - How dangerous the animal really was

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The medical team has long been at a loss with this course of the disease

A 14-year-old boy from the USA who preferred to remain anonymous was healthy and unremarkable until he was 14. He was very athletic, intelligent and played in the school theater. But suddenly everything changed in his life. The story of suffering began with the feeling of being overwhelmed and the inner unrest. The development of the course of the disease went from psychological problems to thoughts of murder. His pet plays a bigger role than the team of doctors initially assumed.

A normal teenager

Until the outbreak of his puzzling medical history, the American boy is an above-average intelligent teenager who even attends a school for the highly gifted. He regularly participates in history and geography competitions, does sports and also plays a major role in school theater.

First treatment of the mysterious illness

From the day that was to change everything in the life of the adolescent, he suddenly developed massive psychological problems, was constantly confused, restless, overwhelmed and also depressed. He described himself as the son of the devil and had strong suicidal thoughts - out of insane fear of himself. His thoughts of murder went so far that he wanted to murder caring people around him.

Finally, his parents take him to an emergency room and the team of doctors promptly prescribed a well-known drug called aripiprazole to treat schizophrenia. After a week in the hospital, the boy was released without the thoughts of murder or suicide he had. He still looks slightly disturbed.

The first signs at the age of nine

The doctors learn from the boy's parents that mental illnesses are not uncommon in the family. At the age of nine the boy suffered from a depressive illness because he was underwhelmed in his school at the time. The then nine-year-old was also bullied by his classmates, who was above average intelligent but socially awkward.

However, the problems disappeared by changing schools to a much smaller school for highly gifted children. In parallel, he was treated with an antidepressant. After a year, the drug could be discontinued, the doctors report in the renowned Journal of Central Nervous System Disease of the case.

The symptoms are getting worse

At the age of 14, however, his condition worsened. A few weeks after his one-week stay in hospital, irrational fears arise, he gets hallucinations and unpredictable outbursts of anger. Strong delusions further define his thoughts in which he has extraordinary powers. He even claims that the domestic cat wants to kill him. He also increasingly refused to leave the house, which meant that his parents had to take him out of school.

Outbursts of anger and fears increasingly define everyday life

The 14-year-old boy lives in a rural area in America, so he enjoyed a very nature-loving life with hiking, gardening and taking care of the animals in the in-house zoo. A few months after the onset of the disease, his mother quit her job to have more time for the boy. At the same time, his doctors are trying to get a grip on the problems with a wide variety of medications. They prescribe antidepressants, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics for the boy - often in combination. But the problems remain.

Eleven-week hospitalization did not produce any results

After months of helplessness, his condition worsens more and more and his parents take the adolescent to the hospital again. This time he spends eleven weeks there, in which the doctors examine him from head to toe. From scanning the brain to blood tests and observing its nerve cells, but to no avail. No test was able to provide clear results.

Streaks appearing on the skin

When their son returns home, the parents notice that redness covers his skin, which looks like stretch marks or stretch marks.

After a long suffering - finally a diagnosis

Another few weeks later, the strips give a doctor the decisive idea. The redness does not run like typical stretch marks in places where the skin is under tension. Instead, they formed on the thighs and armpits. In addition, the color is unusual.

Instead of indicating a growth spurt or weight fluctuations, the stripes are typical of another, very rare disease, neurobartonellosis, in which bacteria affect the nerves. The pathogens (Bartonella Henselae) are transmitted by bites and scratches from cats. The diagnosis fits the boy's experiences. Before the problems started, he was attacked by two cats adopted by the family.

Two years and countless medications later

The doctors then prescribed an antibiotic for the boy. Nevertheless, traces of the bacteria can still be found in the boy's blood two months later. The treatment ultimately only works with four other antibiotics. His psychological problems disappear and the strips of skin recede. Gradually the neurological medication can be discontinued. More than half a year later, there are no more bacteria in his body.

After a long break, the now 16-year-old can return to his old school, where he quickly achieves the best performance. The parents report that their child is completely healthy again. Almost two years have passed since his first thoughts of murder, in which the boy took 27 different medications.

Cat scratches must always be cleaned

Bartonella Henselae infections are tricky. That's why cat scratches should always be washed out with soap and water - and best disinfected. Even if they reach the bloodstream like the American teenager, there are usually no signs of bacterial disease. In addition, little is known about the neurological course of the disease because there are hardly any recorded cases to date. Doctors suspect that the boy developed such severe problems that could be related to a genetic predisposition. (fm)

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