One boy loved his cat. But when he caught a bizarre infection from the animal, one with mind-altering symptoms, the teen started to believe something quite strange. Before long, he thought he was the “son of the devil” and began contemplating ways to kill himself. The boy, who was fifteen at the time of the incident, was hospitalized in October 2015, after suffering hallucinations and outbursts of rage after he caught the illness from his cat.
The boy’s name has not been released following the break of this story. But many of the details are available.
For eighteen months, the teenage boy believed he was an “evil, damned son of the devil.” As a result of his cat-caused illness, he was hospitalized four times over the course of the year and a half.
The boy was diagnosed with the extremely rare rapid-onset schizophrenia. His paranoid and deluded thoughts included thoughts of suicide and worries that his cat was going to kill him.
However, his illness only got worse with time. His symptoms became more pronounced and worrying, and his thoughts of suicide grew more common and severe. Soon the teenage boy was having outbursts of rage. He had become unpredictable and dangerous. His mother had to quit her job so she could care for the boy because his safety was in jeopardy.
For eleven weeks the boy remained in the hospital, undergoing extensive testing to discover what might have caused the sudden change in his mental state. Usual treatments did nothing to help him.
However, one doctor noticed something strange. The boy had marks on his skin, which resembled “cat-scratch disease.” This condition results after a cat scratches or bites someone and infects them with a common bacteria called Bartonella henselae, which lives inside cats mouths and on their claws.
After that was recognized, the teenage boy tested positive for that infection. He was administered a plethora of antibiotics, and an intensive treatment plan from the doctors at North Carolina State University.
Because Bartonella has a habit for “hiding” in the lining of a person’s blood vessels, it can be very dangerous if doctors do not treat it. In the case of this teenage boy, it resulted in horrible hallucinations and threats upon his own life. Besides what happened to this boy, it can also cause brain swelling, which can result in death.
A scratch or bite from a cat can be a very dangerous thing.
The researchers who helped the boy through his case wrote a case study about it in the Journal of Central Nervous Disease, articulating how interesting this particular case was.
The lead author of the study, Dr. Ed Breitschwerdt, said, “This case is interesting for a number of reasons. Beyond suggesting that infection itself could contribute to… schizophrenia, it raises the question of how often infection may be involved with psychiatric disorders generally.”
The reported added, “In addition to persecutory delusions related to (the teen’s) pets, he developed auditory, visual, and tactile hallucinations and began refusing to leave the house.”
Did you know a cat scratch could make you lose your mind?