When Should I Go To An A& e Department With A Cat Or Dog Bite
In some situations you may need specialist or urgent treatment and should go directly to your nearest A& E. For example, if:
- The bleeding from the wound does not stop.
- The bite is on the head of a child.
- The bite is more than skin-deep – for example, if you can see bone or tendon in the wound.
- There is a ‘foreign body’ in the wound – for example, a part of the animal’s tooth.
What Is Cat Bites
Cat bites can cause serious infections and other health problems. Infections may be caused by bacteria under the skin, which is called cellulitis. This can lead to blood poisoning or sepsis. Cat bites can also lead to tetanus, rabies, or cat scratch disease . If you notice that your skin looks infected or swollen after a bite from your cat, consult a healthcare professional immediately.
Do All Cats Carry Bartonella Henselae Bacteria
Not all cats carry B. henselae. Studies estimate that about 30% to 40% of cats carry B. henselae. But in some areas of the U.S., these rates are much higher.
Cats are more likely to carry B. henselae if they:
Have fleas: Fleas can pass the bacteria from one cat to another.
Are kittens: Kittens are more likely to have more bacteria in their blood than adult cats.
Spend time outdoors: Outdoor cats are more likely to come in contact with fleas and other cats, which puts them at risk for B. henselae infection.
Fight with other cats: When cats fight, they can come in contact with another cats blood and catch B. henselae.
Receive blood transfusions: If a cat gets a blood transfusion that is contaminated with B. henselae, the bacteria can infect them.
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Cat Bites Are Not As Innocent As They Seem
Cat bites can cause serious infections.
- Feline immunodeficiency virus . This disease is similar to HIV in humans and affects cats immune systems, making it easier for them to get sick from other illnesses.
- Feline calicivirus. An upper respiratory infection caused by this virus causes sneezing, runny nose and eyes, fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite in cats. Cats may also have a hunchback appearance due to fluid build-up under their skin around their neck area. Antibiotics can help treat feline calicivirus but they dont cure the disease itself they just work on the symptoms so your cat feels better until it goes away on its own .
- Feline herpesvirus . This is a common upper respiratory infection that causes flu-like symptoms such as a high temperature , conjunctivitis , or both alongside lethargy it doesnt usually require antibiotics unless theres an underlying condition present like diabetes mellitus or pancreatitis which would need more aggressive treatment with antiviral drugs like acyclovir instead of amoxicillin plus clavulanate potassium tablets given once daily at 250 mg per cat per day for 10 days for uncomplicated cases of corneal ulcers associated with this infection with no underlying systemic illness requiring hospitalization nor intravenous fluids being required after administration of antibiotic therapy during initial office visits.
How Common Are Cat Bites
- It should be noted that the 515% figure noted above may be less than the actual number of cat bites to humans due to under-reporting because some consider them unimportant.
- The World Health Organization states that cat bites account for 250% of injuries related to animal bites worldwide, second to dog bites, and an estimated 400,000 cat bites and 66,000 visits to the emergency room occur each year in the United States.
- Although the wounds caused by cat bites are typically less severe than that of dog bites, they frequently lead to infections in 3050% of the cases. Children, the elderly, ill, and immunosuppressed individuals, such as those going through cancer treatments, are particularly vulnerable to developing severe infections.
As a veterinarian, being bitten is a hazard of the job. However, I never thought a patient would land me in the hospital. While giving a cat some oral medication, she got away from me. Even though I knew better, I reached out to grab her as she was making her escape. Well, that was definitely a mistake. She proceeded to display her displeasure by clamping down on the knuckle, directly in the joint of my left index finger.
Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to remember that the severity of a bite is made worse when one pulls the targeted body part away from the animal while they still have their chops on you.
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What You Should Know About Cat Bites Fights And Antibiotics
Image via Marie Charouzova/Shutterstock
I evaluate and treat many cats at my animal hospital in Fort Lauderdale. These funny, adorable, independent and very much peculiar little guys have a special place in my heart.
Unfortunately, cat owners do not bring their cats into the veterinary hospital for wellness visits nearly as often as they do for dogs. I typically evaluate a cat for illness or trauma rather than for wellness. It is very common for me to treat cats for trauma sustained from fighting or for cat bite wounds from other cats. Far too often, pet parents do not bring their fur baby to the veterinarian to follow up after a cat was in a fight with another cat.
I cannot stress enough the importance of having your cat evaluated if they have been bitten by another cat. Since this is such a common injury in cats, all cat owners should know why cat bite wounds need to be treated by your veterinarian and the importance of systemic antibiotics for cat bite wound treatment.
What Are The Complications Of Cat Scratch Fever
Most healthy people dont have complications from cat scratch fever. However, people whose immune systems are weak can have complications such as:
- Bacillary angiomatosis. A skin disorder characterized by red, elevated lesions surrounded by a scaly ring. This condition may become a more widespread disorder that involves internal organs.
- Parinaud’s oculoglandular syndrome. A condition that involves a red, irritated and painful eye similar to conjunctivitis , fever, and swollen lymph nodes in front of the ear on the same side
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Immediate Care For A Cat Bite
If the cat bite has broken the skin, immediate action should be taken.
- Wash the wound gently under running water avoid scrubbing
- Gently clean the wound with hand soap
- Avoid cleaning with strong disinfectants or other chemicals, as they can sting and cause additional pain around the wound
- Alternately, clean the wound with a mild salt solution, made by mixing 1 teaspoon of table salt in 2 cups of water
The time is takes for wounds to heal depends on not only the extent of the damage, but also on your overall health. If the bite is infected and appropriate treatment is implemented, the infection will usually heal within 7-10 days.
- The person has been seriously injured
- This includes deep bite wounds where the underlying muscle, tendon, or bone has been damaged. Small joints, like the fingers and toes, are more likely to become infected after a direct injury, such as a bite.
When The Dog Bites How To Treat Animal Bites
When it comes to traumatic injuries seen in the emergency room or urgent care, animal bites rank fairly high on the list of most common injuries. Whether a cat, dog, hamster, raccoon, prairie dog, monkey, or shark, we have seen them all. As a provider, we need to know how to deal with this efficiently and effectively. At first, that can seem like a daunting task. By approaching each patient with the same, systematic approach you will quickly become more comfortable with treating these injuries. From the toddler who is bitten in the head by a dog, to an elderly woman who was bitten in the hand by one of her 14 cats, the evaluation all starts with the same basic approach. Here we will teach you how to treat animal bites.
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Cat Bites Are Punctures Made By The Teeth Of A Cat
Cat bites are punctures made by the teeth of a cat. Cat bites are more likely to cause infection than dog bites because cats carry bacteria in their mouths that can cause severe infections in humans. Cats bite either in self-defense or during play, and they may bite multiple times until they draw blood.
Cat bites can be very painful and lead to serious complications if not treated promptly. If you have been bitten by a cat, see your healthcare provider right away for evaluation and treatment with antibiotics if necessary
What Antibiotics Will They Give You
In general, you will require antibiotics and infection cleaning and treatment if the wound is significant. That means your bleeding does not seem to be slowing down or your bone is broken from the bite. Rather than wait the whole 12-24 hours, try to see a doctor in the ER within eight hours of the bite happening, as immediate cleansing and treatment can reduce the chance of infection. Feelings of fever and any pus coming from the bite are also major indicators of infection so dont ignore a bite!
SEE MORE: If You Are Hospitalized For a Cat Bite
The doctor will usually give you antibiotics in pill form, unless the infection is critical, in which case you may need intravenous biotics. If you have already received a tetanus shot in the last five years you wont need another one. However, if you havent had one within that time frame you will need one, and perhaps a booster shot. Rabies immunization is often included with cat bite treatment. Lastly, a doctor visit will involve stitching you up after cleaning and sterilization.
Antibiotics are inexpensive. Although there is some trouble in visiting a doctor, it is best to diligent and avoid any and all risk of infection.
Antibiotics are medications that fight bacteria and fungus.
The most common prescriptions for cat bite antibiotics include:
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What Do I Need To Look For To Assess For Injures To My Cat
Many times, cat bite wounds and trauma can be found by simply looking at your cat. You may see obvious, open puncture wounds on the skin, or you may see localized areas of fur that appear wet or matted. If you notice areas of the fur that are wet or matted, part the fur and check the skin for open wounds or scabs. Check common locations such as the head, rear limbs and base of the tail.
Puncture wounds heal very quickly, and many times you may not see anything, especially a few days after a cat fight. Often, small puncture wounds quickly scab over and develop an infection and swelling under the skin, known as an abscess. The common clinical signs associated with cat bite wounds and abscesses are:
- Swelling under the skin that can be warm to the touch and is usually painful
- Excessive grooming of the affected area
How Cats And People Become Infected
Cats can get infected with B. henselae from flea bites and flea dirt getting into their wounds. By scratching and biting at the fleas, cats pick up the infected flea dirt under their nails and between their teeth. Cats can also become infected by fighting with other cats that are infected. The germ spreads to people when infected cats bite or scratch a person hard enough to break their skin. The germ can also spread when infected cats lick at wounds or scabs that you may have.
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Bites From Other Animals
Other animal bites are less common in practice but the most frequently encountered are rat bites. Although antibiotic prophylaxis is not indicated for minor injuries, a clinical syndrome of rat-bite fever should be kept in mind if patients present with malaise, fever and progressive arthralgia following a rat bite. The causative organism in the rare cases reported in Australia is Streptobacillus moniliformis.5In Asia the causative organism is Streptobacillus minor. The organism may be grown in blood cultures. Treatment is intravenous penicillin for 5-7 days followed by oral penicillin for seven days.
An extremely rare but fatal viral encephalitis may occur after bat bites or scratches in Australia. The causative agent is Australian bat lyssavirus which is nearly identical to rabies virus.6Australian bat lyssavirus infection should be considered in a patient with a history of a bat bite or exposure, who presents with meningoencephalitis. Long incubation periods can occur. The most important initial management of bat bite or scratches is immediate wound care with soap and water . Rabies vaccine and immunoglobulin should be administered as for post-exposure rabies prophylaxis.
Best Antibiotic For Cat Bite
Cat bites are one of the most common reasons people visit their doctor, and theyre often not something that you want to ignore. Cat bites can be extremely painful, and can cause infection and swelling. In order to ensure that you dont get a cat bite, its important to know what kind of antibiotic is appropriate for your cat bite.
Antibiotics for cat bites fall into three categories: topical antibiotics, systemic antibiotics, and combination topical/systemic medications. Topical antibiotics are used to treat superficial wounds such as scratches or minor cuts on your cats body.
Systemic antibiotics are taken orally and work by disrupting the bacterial cell wall so that it can no longer grow and reproduce in the wound, which then allows it to heal naturally over time. Combination topical/systemic medications contain both types of medication at once and can be effective at treating certain types of wounds on the skin of your cat such as puncture wounds or small tears.
Cat bites are painful and can become infected or even cause you to develop an infection. This is especially true if your cat has a history of biting people, or if the cat has been around other animals that have had a history of biting people. If youve been bitten by a cat, its important to seek medical attention immediately so that an antibiotic can be administered before any infection sets in.
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Cat Bites Can Lead To Serious Infections
A study found that one in three patients who sought medical attention for a cat bite needed to be hospitalized, and two-thirds of those hospitalized patients required surgery. Cat bites tend to occur on patients fingers, hands, and wrists, which contain delicate tendons, ligaments, and tissue. Infections in these small, intricate spaces can cause significant complications if not treated early and aggressively.
What Causes Cat Scratch Disease
Bartonella henselae is the bacteria that causes cat scratch disease. B. henselae can live in a cats blood without causing any signs of illness. Since cats dont usually get sick, they carry B. henselae and can spread it to other animals and people.
Cats can pass B. henselae to you when they:
Scratch or bite you
Lick an area of skin with a break, like a wound
Cat fleas also carry B. henselae. Fleas are the most common way the bacteria passes between cats.
Theres also evidence that dogs can carry B. henselae, but it isnt common.
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Serious But Rare Complications
Although rare, CSD can cause people to have serious complications. CSD can affect the brain, eyes, heart, or other internal organs. These rare complications, which may require intensive treatment, are more likely to occur in children 5-14 years of age and people with weakened immune systems.
Most cats with B. henselae infection show NO signs of illness, but on rare occasions this disease can cause inflammation of the heartmaking cats very sick with labored breathing. B. henselae infection may also develop in the mouth, urinary system, or eyes. Your veterinarian may find that some of your cats other organs may be inflamed.
The Sooner You Seek Medical Attention The Better
Because cat bites can become infected quickly, and those infections can spread rapidly, its imperative to seek medical attention immediately following a cat bite or a cat scratch.
Most patients who sustain a cat bite are started on oral antibiotics prophylactically , in an attempt to prevent the need for hospitalization or surgery. Its also important to make sure your tetanus shot is up to date any time you sustain an animal bite or other open skin wound.
Multiple studies have shown that the sooner patients with cat-inflicted injuries receive appropriate wound care and antibiotics, the better their outcome is likely to be. *** At GoHealth Urgent Care, were open 365 days a year to care for you! We offer wound care, tetanus shots, sutures, prescriptions…and lots of other services, too.
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We Provide Exceptional Veterinary Care At Crystal River Animal Hospital
At Crystal River Animal Hospital, our goal is to provide preventative health care as well as treatment in an at-home environment that is convenient to both owners and pets at reasonable pricing. In todays society, as the world seems to be spinning faster and faster, we are committed to getting back to a service that takes the time to understand the needs of owners and pets on a personal platform.
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