When people think about being bitten by a pet or stray animal, the first thing that often comes to mind is a dog. Unfortunately, dogs may not be the worst of our problems. If you are bitten by a cat, you may suffer far more serious damage, up to and including infection.
According to a new study by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, cat bites often lead to bacterial infections that are difficult to treat. In fact, these bites are often much more difficult to treat than dog bites. According to the study, close to a third of all people who sought treatment for a cat bite to the hand had to ultimately be hospitalized for more serious medical attention.
The researchers’ goal was to see if they could determine exactly what led to hospital stays versus patch-ups and send-homes. What they found was what we already knew: Cat bites over joints or tendons are more likely to require hospitalization than other bites to the hand. People with existing immune-deficiency disorders are at a higher risk.
So what is it about cats that make their bites so dangerous? Their sharp teeth make them more likely to puncture the skin more deeply. The teeth are also easily able to puncture joint sheaths and tendons. When these parts are punctured by cat teeth, there is a perfect avenue for bacteria to be introduced into the human body.
Says Dr. Brian Carlsen, “I have seen some really bad infections that have required multiple operations. I had one patient, a farmer, whose tendons were destroyed on the back of his hand by the infection. He couldn’t straighten his fingers out. We had to reconstruct the tendons.”
It is not unusual for people to be bitten by their own cats. It is also not unusual for people to forego the hospital for home treatment. Many often simply wash their hands, put on a bandage and go about their day. This may not be the best course of action.
If you receive a cat bite in North Carolina from someone else’s pet, call our offices. A member of our team will review the details of your case and tell you how to proceed. Call our office now or browse our website for more information about our firm.