N19 — May 2013 — Cat Bites and Wound Care
Intro: Would you believe one in a hundred Emergency Room visits is because of a dog or cat bite? Wounds and cuts to the skin in general are among the top reasons people head to the hospital. Here's Dennis Douda for the Mayo Clinic News Network.
"This is Binks or Mr. Binks as we call him."
"He's the guilty party."
Dawn (Bah-thun) Bothun loves her pets; Binks the cat and a 4-pound Pomeranian named Cooper, who seem pretty fond of each other, because Binks tries to play bodyguard anytime visiting dogs get too rough with Cooper.
"The other dog was just on top of him playing with him and he was squeaking so the cat got worried for the dog."
"I had my hand down there and the cat just struck."
The resulting wound looked like a vampire bite. Dawn says, although it really hurt, she thought, "oh well."
"It'll heal. No big deal."
One week later the redness and swelling finally concerned her enough to see a doctor, who immediately sent her to the Emergency Department. What followed was a hospital stay, IV Antibiotics and a very close call.
"I had 7 surgeries during the following two weeks while I was in the hospital."
"It was scary. I cried every night before surgery."
"I had it in my head I was going to wake up and come out of surgery with no arm."
"The cat bite is the worst."
Dr. Annie Sadosty is the Chair of Mayo Clinic's Department of Emergency Medicine.
"Cat bites do confer a higher risk of infection for sure."
"By virtue of the puncture, the bacteria get closed in and it's hard to wash out. No matter what we do."
That's why Dr. Sadosty says we should always seek care for animal bites. Wounds to hands and joints, or those with significant bleeding, numbness or loss of function also need attention. For small cuts the doctor says we can simply rinse them well with tap water and apply a triple antibiotic ointment. Antiseptics like alcohol or hydrogen peroxide are not recommended.
"Some of those are extremely painful on an open wound and you can actually damage some of the tissue through that."
If, after your best efforts, a skin injury shows increasing redness, swelling or oozing, see a doctor.
"But in general, the message is sooner rather than later."
It's a lesson Dawn says she learned the hard way.
For the Mayo Clinic News Network, I'm Dennis Douda.
In case of a pet bite, Dr. Sadosty (sah-DOS-tee) says to make sure the animal's rabies shots, and the person's tetanus shots are up to date. Interestingly, the doctor says, because of all the bacteria in our mouths, Human bites can also be quite dangerous.
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