Cat Bites Are How Dangerous?

Cat Bites Are How Dangerous?There are an estimated 3-6 million animal bites per year in the United States, of which 80-90% are from dogs, 5-15% are from cats, and 2-5% are from rodents.  Cats more frequently bite women than men.  All bite wounds that break the skin should be evaluated immediately by a physician, physican assistant, or nurse practitioner.  The most common complication of these bite wounds is deep soft tissue infection and this is the focus of this article.
Cat bites are associated with a higher risk of infection because they have sharp, needle-like teeth.  The teeth create deep puncture wounds, placing bacteria from the cat’s mouth into direct contact with the deep soft tissues.  In some cases, the bacteria are injected into the bones and joints, creating a condition called osteomyelitis (infection of the bone) or septic arthritis (infection within the joint space).  Cleansing the wound surface with soap and water is often not effective in preventing infection because of the inoculation of bacteria into deeper tissues.

Cat Bites Get Infected Easily

When a cat bites, its sharp canine teeth easily puncture the skin, leaving small, but deep, wounds in the skin.

These punctures rapidly seal over, trapping bacteria from the cat's mouth under the skin of the victim.
These punctures rapidly seal over, trapping bacteria from the cat's mouth under the skin of the victim, where they can readily multiply. A similar type of injury happens with cat scratches - the extremely sharp, curved nails penetrate deep into the skin, essentially injecting bacteria deep into the puncture wound. Depending on the location and depth of the wound, the bacteria can spread in the surrounding tissues causing a condition called cellulitis.

Cat Bites Are So Dangerous

Cat bites can be dangerous both to other animals and to humans. In their mouths, all cats carry a large number of bacteria that are capable of causing tissue infections in bite wounds. One of the more common is highly pathogenic bacterium known as Pasteurella multocida. An infected cat bite wound will be red, swollen and painful, and the infection can spread through the surrounding tissues, causing a condition called cellulitis, or through the blood to other areas of the body, causing a condition called septicemia (often called "blood poisoning"). Infected people may suffer from fever and flu-like symptoms and, rarely, may die if proper medical treatment is not sought. Children, the elderly, ill and immunosuppressed individuals are particularly vulnerable to developing severe infections if bitten by a cat.

 Immediate Action should Take

The wound should immediately be washed under running water. Avoid scrubbing the wounds vigorously, or using strong disinfectants or other chemicals, since this may harm tissue and delay wound healing. You may clean the wound with a mild salt solution, made by mixing 1 teaspoon (5 mls) of table salt in 2 cups (500 mls) of water. Control bleeding by applying direct pressure to the wound using an absorbent dressing or bandage.

You should see a physician as soon as possible. Most cat bite wounds are small punctures that drive pathogenic bacteria deep into the skin. Left untreated, a serious infection can develop within twenty-four to forty-eight hours.

You Really Need a Doctor

Yes. It is advisable to see a physician as soon as possible in order to have the injury properly treated. Your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics in order to reduce the risk of infection developing at the site of the bite or elsewhere in the body. Some wounds may need to be sutured ("stitched") while others will be left open to heal. A tetanus booster may also be recommended.

Depending on the severity of the bite and the circumstances surrounding the bite, your doctor may also recommend that you receive a rabies prophylaxis treatment.

A study shows how cat bites are more dangerous than once previously thought, and is a warning to the general public to beware of a cat’s bite. Even though just 10 to 15 percent of all animal bite victims that head to the emergency room suffer from cat bites, they can be some of the most troublesome animal bites because of the infections they can cause.

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  1. Most of the time, we actually ignore a cat bite. We're more concerned if the bite is from a dog. This is a great way to inform cat owners about the dangers of their pet bites. Keep it up!

  2. Whoa. This is another reason why I dislike having pets. Cats are cute to look at but they can be very dangerous.

  3. From what I know cat bites are also dangerous and some stray cats may also have rabies in their saliva.

  4. Nice information about cats! Thanks for sharing this. Now, I gotta be careful not to upset my little kitty. :)

  5. all animals has rabies it just depends on how strong it was, even us.. i guess the best thing to do stay away from stray cats and avoid hard cuddles with your pets!

  6. I guess every animal bites can be dangerous

  7. Cat bites should be treated immediately because of the infection transferred.