If you’re a cat lover — you may want to consider giving your pet some space, and less cuddling.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just published a new study that warns cat owners about “cat scratch disease.”
The disease is caused by a bacteria fleas give to cats.
Cat scratch disease is spread when a cat licks a person’s open wounds — or bites or scratches a person hard enough to break the skin.
Symptoms include fever, headache and exhaustion.
The mild illness can become deadly if left untreated, and can involve swelling of the brain.
According to Mashable, the CDC study observed health insurance claims made between 2005 and 2013 — and found that in over 12,000 claims diagnosed with cat-scratch disease, 500 of them were hospitalized.
Despite fewer people contracting the disease overall, the number of people who have become seriously ill from the disease has “increased from 3.5% in 2005–2007 to 4.2% in 2011–2013” according to the study.
The study also found that there was an unusually high rate of diagnoses of the disease in January, according to Mashable.
The CDC recommends treating cats monthly with a flea medication, trimming their claws and keeping them inside. Humans should also wash bites and scratches immediately and avoid rough play with cats.