Pets can make our lives much happier. We must be very careful, though, when it comes to being hurt by a pet. Playful scratches and bites are common, but some of these bites can become serious and cause complications.
The American Pet Association reports that there are about 150M dogs and cats living in the United States, with cats outnumbering dogs. Animal bites are therefore very common in the US, with about two to five million people being affected each year, accounting for one percent of emergency room visits. It is estimated that bout 10-20 people die yearly from animal bites.
Children are the most likely victims, and dogs are the most likely attackers. In fact, up to 90% of all animal bites are caused by dogs, with cats coming in second, followed by other animals such as rodents, ferrets, rabbits, and farm animals. Although most bites are caused by dogs, cat bites are the most likely to cause serious infections.
Why Cat Bites are Risky
Cats have very sharp, long and pointed teeth that can bury themselves deep into the flesh, causing puncture wounds. Cats usually bite when provoked, especially the female felines. These bites can be much deeper than the victim thinks because the skin can seal off the small punctured site, thus preventing open drainage and leading to infection. While only one percent of dog bites lead to infection that requires hospitalization, up to 10% of cat bites send victims to the hospital for treatment.
About two-thirds of cat bites involve the hands and arms of the victim. When bitten, the skin and tissues can be infected by bacteria. When not treated immediately, the tendons, bones and joints may be affected, causing deep tissue infection such as cellulitis (soft tissue infection), tendos...
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... additional treatments (e.g, surgery) are recommended.
Babovic N, Cayci C, and Carlsen B. Cat Bite Infections of the Hand: Assessment of Morbidity and Predictors of Severe Infection. J Hand Surg, 2014 Feb.Vol 39, Is 2 , pp 286-290. http://www.jhandsurg.org/article/S0363-5023%2813%2901539-6/abstract;
USA Today. A cat bite can turn into a hospital stay, study. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/02/09/cat-bite-hospital-stay/5276997/;
ASSH. Animal Bites. http://www.assh.org/Public/HandConditions/Pages/AnimalBites.aspx;
Medscape. Pasteurella Multocida Infection. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/224920-overview;
Medline Plus. Cat Scratch Disease. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001614.htm;
UpToDate. Patient information: Animal bites (Beyond the Basics). http://www.uptodate.com/contents/animal-bites-beyond-the-basics
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