While it may sound like a joke at first, cat bite injuries can be just as dangerous as dog bites. Most people are aware of how serious dog bite injuries can be. We’ve written about dog bite injuries in previous blogs, and have even dedicated a page to informing the public about dog bite injury claims. However, many are unaware of the possible dangers associated with a cat bite.
Dog bites can leave a victim with serious bleeding, broken bones, and extensive scarring. On the other hand, the most serious danger associated with cat bite injuries is the risk of infection. According to a three-year study published in the Journal of Hand Surgery, cat bites infections can lead to abscesses, nerve complications, and loss of joint mobility.
According to the study, cat bites only account for about 10 to 15 percent of emergency room animal bite cases. However, they are more likely to become infected than dog bite injuries. Most cat bite injuries affect the hand, and can inject bacteria deep into bones and tendons. Of the cases studied, some victims were treated with oral antibiotics; however, more than a quarter of the victims were hospitalized for their injuries.
Most of the infections were caused by Pasteurella multocida, an aggressive form of bacteria found in the mouth of most cats. According to Dr. Brian T. Carlsen, an author of the study, signs of this bacterial infection include, redness, swelling, increasing pain, and difficulty moving the hand. “Once it’s in there,” said Dr. Carlsen, “it can grow quite rapidly in fluid-filled spaces that don’t have blood circulation, and surgery is often required.”
The extent of serious risk from cat bites may come as a surprise to most people, who may not take seemingly minor bites seriously. However, those in the medical community are aware of the threat. According to Dr. Carlsen, “The hand surgery community isn’t so shocked by our paper, but I do think the public may be surprised.”
Another study from the University of Washington found that 30% to 50% of cat bites are complicated by infections. Researchers recommendations for victims of a cat bite, “If there is a puncture wound of any size, wash as soon as possible with soap and water then seek medical advice.”
While less common, it is possible for domestic animals, including cats and dogs, to be infected with the rabies virus. In some areas, rabies cases are up in recent years, even among domestic animals. According to one state epidemiologist, roughly 30 percent of rabies cases involve domesticated animals. In most states, after a reported cat bite, the cat will be placed in quarantine, to make sure the animal does not have rabies, and then may be released.
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of an animal bite such as a dog or a cat, you should seek medical attention. You may also want to contact experienced personal injury attorneys to make sure you are compensated for your medical treatment, and any pain you’ve suffered. At Gilman & Bedigian we have been fighting for injury victims for decades, with a focus on getting you compensation, so you can get better and move forward with your life.