Saturday, November 29, 2008

Seriousness of Cat Bites and Cat Bite Infections

Five days ago, my mother's hand was bitten by a cat. The bite punctured the hand and did not bleed. Although Mom followed a time honored home remedy for a cat bite by washing the wound thoroughly and treating it with an antibiotic cream. It wasn't enough.

Within an hour it became apparent that this was an infected cat bite and Mom went to a local walk in clinic for treatment. The doctor cleaned the wound again and prescribed antibiotics. Even using ice to control the inflammation from the bite, the infection continued to spread. The symptoms of cat bite infection of swelling, redness, numbness of the fingers, throbbing and pain was quite apparent.

Two days into the cat bite treatment it became obvious the infection was spreading rapidly up Mom's arm. She returned to the walk in clinic and was prescribed yet another antibiotic.

Twelve hours later we took Mom to the emergency. Even with two oral antibiotics, and medical care from a physician, the infection from the cat's bite was getting worse. The emergency doctor and nurses all said that a animal bites, and particularly a cat bite requires an immediate visit to the hospital for treatment. That is because 80% of all cat bites are infectious and requires immediate intravenous antibiotic treatment. A cat bite, particularly a puncture wound like the one Mom received, is highly infectious, due to all the bacteria in a cat's mouth.

Mom is now receiving a daily treatment to reverse the symptoms of infection. The duration is expected to last five days, maybe longer depending on her response to treatment.

Here are two more pictures of Mom's hands after she returned from the hospital. It was her right hand that was bitten. The left hand was bandaged from the IV needle.

You can see the swelling.

Recommended Treatment For All Cat Bite Injuries

The first thing you need to do is make the wound bleed. It will help remove the cat's saliva from your body. Wash the wound throughly with soap and water. Treat the wound with an antibiotic ointment or cream. If you can, elevate the area the received the cat bite above the heart and apply ice to reduce the inflammation. Go immediately to your nearest ER (Emergency Room) for intravenous antibiotic treatment.

Mom is recovering fine now. The cat, however has been put down. As a stray recently adopted his medical and vaccination treatment was unknown. Although rabies risk is very low, it is better to be safe than sorry.

So remember, if you get bitten by a cat, seek medical attention immediately and don't lose valuable time with oral antibiotics. Your recovery and health depends on it.