Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

When cats bite: One in three patients bitten in hand hospitalized, infections common

Date:
February 5, 2014
Source:
Mayo Clinic
Summary:
Dogs aren’t the only pets who sometimes bite the hands that feed them. Cats do too, and when they strike a hand, can inject bacteria deep into joints and tissue, perfect breeding grounds for infection. Cat bites to the hand are so dangerous, one in three patients with such wounds had to be hospitalized, a study covering three years showed. Of those hospitalized, two-thirds needed surgery. Middle-aged women were the most common bite victims, according to the research.

Dogs aren't the only pets who sometimes bite the hands that feed them. Cats do too, and when they strike a hand, can inject bacteria deep into joints and tissue, perfect breeding grounds for infection. Cat bites to the hand are so dangerous, 1 in 3 patients with such wounds had to be hospitalized, a Mayo Clinic study covering three years showed. Two-third of those hospitalized needed surgery. Middle-aged women were the most common bite victims, according to the research, published in the Journal of Hand Surgery.

Related Articles


Why are cat bites to the hand so dangerous? It's not that their mouths have more germs than dogs' mouths -- or people's, for that matter. Actually, it's all in the fangs.

"The dogs' teeth are blunter, so they don't tend to penetrate as deeply and they tend to leave a larger wound after they bite. The cats' teeth are sharp and they can penetrate very deeply, they can seed bacteria in the joint and tendon sheaths," says senior author Brian Carlsen, M.D., a Mayo Clinic plastic surgeon and orthopedic hand surgeon.

"It can be just a pinpoint bite mark that can cause a real problem, because the bacteria get into the tendon sheath or into the joint where they can grow with relative protection from the blood and immune system," Dr. Carlsen adds.

The bacteria injected by a cat bite can include a strain common in animals and particularly hard to fight with antibiotics, he says.

In the study, researchers identified 193 Mayo Clinic patients with cat bites to the hand from January 1, 2009, through 2011. Of those, 57 were hospitalized; on average, they were in the hospital three days. Of those hospitalized, 38 needed to have their wounds surgically irrigated, or flushed out, and infected tissue removed, a procedure known as debridement. Eight patients needed more than one operation, and some needed reconstructive surgery.

Of the 193 patients, 69 percent were female, and the mean age was 49. About half of the patients first went to the emergency room, and the others went to primary care. The mean time between the bite and medical care was 27 hours. Patients with bites directly over the wrist or any joint in the hand had a higher risk of hospitalization than people with bites over soft tissue, the study found.

Thirty-six of the 193 patients were hospitalized immediately when they sought medical care, while 154 were treated with oral antibiotics as outpatients and three weren't treated. The outpatient antibiotic treatment failed in 21 patients, a 14 percent failure rate, and those patients needed to be hospitalized.

The bottom line: Physicians and victims of cat bites to the hand need to take the wounds seriously and carefully evaluate them, Dr. Carlsen says. When patients have inflamed skin and swelling, aggressive treatment should be pursued, he and the other researchers say.

People tend to be more dismissive of cat bites than dog bites, in part because cat bites often look like a pinprick, and dog bites look much worse, Dr. Carlsen says.

That's a mistake, he says: "Cat bites look very benign, but as we know and as the study shows, they are not. They can be very serious."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Mayo Clinic. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nikola Babovic, Cenk Cayci, Brian T. Carlsen. Cat Bite Infections of the Hand: Assessment of Morbidity and Predictors of Severe Infection. The Journal of Hand Surgery, 2014; 39 (2): 286 DOI: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2013.11.003

Cite This Page:

Mayo Clinic. "When cats bite: One in three patients bitten in hand hospitalized, infections common." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140205103145.htm>.
Mayo Clinic. (2014, February 5). When cats bite: One in three patients bitten in hand hospitalized, infections common. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140205103145.htm
Mayo Clinic. "When cats bite: One in three patients bitten in hand hospitalized, infections common." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140205103145.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hugging It Out Could Help You Ward Off A Cold

Hugging It Out Could Help You Ward Off A Cold

Newsy (Dec. 21, 2014) Carnegie Mellon researchers found frequent hugs can help people avoid stress-related illnesses. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins