Cat Bites May Cause Severe Infections

Cat Bites May Cause Severe Infections

In a new research study done by the Mayo Clinic, it has shown that bites from cats, even though they might appear to be less serious, can cause serious infections, particularly if the bite happens on the hand. The study was printed up in the Journal of Hand Surgery earlier this month. In the report, research also stated that one out of three individuals ended up being hospitalized after they had gotten cat bites on their hands.

Even though a cat’s mouth is not any dirtier than a human’s mouth or even a dog’s mouth, the sharp teeth a cat has is able to inject germs deep inside the skin. Dogs’ teeth have more of a blunt shape which causes a large injury, but cat teeth stab much deeper down in a person’s skin. Dr. Brian Carlsen, who works at the Mayo Clinic stated that the wound might be only the size of a pinpoint but it can create a big problem because microorganisms get in the tendons or in the joints where they are able to grow and multiple and have basic protection from the body’s immune system.

Dawn Bothun ended up being bitten by her cat. She decided to wait nearly a week before she went to go to the hospital. It ended up costing her over $150,000 and also eight weeks of being both in and out of the hospital due to illness. She stated that she washed the wounds she got on her wrist and put antiseptic on them. She believed she would be able to manage them on her own but Bothun found she could not move her wrist after seven days.

The Mayo Clinic researchers looked at almost 200 bite cases which had happened between 2009 and 2011. The patients that were involved in the study had all suffered bitten on their hands. The average age of the various contributors was 49 years old, and nearly 70 percent of them were women. Around half the patients had gone to the emergency room, while the others instead visited their regular doctor. The usual time the group of people had waited from receiving bites to getting treatment was almost 30 hours.

The investigators stated that almost 60 patients who had received bites needed to be put in the hospital, but only around 35 were admitted immediately after going for medical treatment. Out of the ones hospitalized, nearly 40 patients had to have surgery in order to clear out the wound of infected tissue. Other patients also had to have more than just one surgery. Some even ended up needing reconstructive operations.

In the meantime, at least 80 percent of the patients were first given oral antibiotics, stated the researchers. For nearly 15 percent of those individuals, outpatient management with the antibiotics failed to work and they had to be put in the hospital. In the majority of cases, cat bites that were directly positioned over a joint such as the wrist were much more likely to end up in a hospitalization than bites that were in soft tissue areas.

Cat bites have to be taken very seriously and be looked at by a physician, exclaimed the study. This is predominantly true when victims develop inflamed, swelling skin. In such cases the wound must be treated aggressively. Just because cat bites look benign does not mean they are. This study has shown just how serious they really are. So if a person receives a bite from a cat, monitor the bite very closely and see a physician as soon as possible. The bites can cause serious infections, particularly if on the hand.

By Kimberly Ruble


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