Ohio woman goes blind after cat licks her

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TOLEDO, Ohio- A Toledo woman wants to warn others about a potentially dangerous health condition for anyone with a cat.

Janese Walters told TV station WTOL in Toledo that she lost the vision in her left eye.

The condition baffled her doctors.

“I looked in the mirror and I thought I had pink eye, or something,” Walters said. “I went to the doctors and they couldn’t figure out for some time what it was.”

Once Walters mentioned she had a cat, doctors figured out what happened.

“They discovered I had something called ‘cat scratch’,” Walters said.

University of Toledo doctor Kris Brickman told WTOL that only about 40-percent of cats carry the bacteria. He said it isn’t harmful to them, but can be to humans.

“Anything that is exposed to the cat’s mouth — including if you have a little scratch that the cat licks — that’s how you get it,” Brickman said.

The doctor said it can affect the eyes by increasing blood vessels. It can also cause liver problems and get into the spinal fluids and create meningitis.

“Basically go play with your cats, but wash your hands afterwards,” Brickman warned. “Don’t let them lick any open wounds, and try not to get bit by any cat.”

Walters said she had no knowledge of cat scratch before doctors diagnosed her with it.

She wants her experience to be a warning to others before it’s too late.

“It’s real important. You don’t want to lose your eye sight.”