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Injuries from cats can be more serious than a dog bite

Although dog bites often get more media attention, animals of the feline variety can also inflict some serious damage. Cat bites are especially dangerous because their fangs can penetrate deeper than a dog's teeth, pushing potentially harmful bacteria deeper into the tissue, joints and tendons. Wisconsin residents who have suffered this type of animal bite should be careful not to immediately dismiss the injury.

According to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, one in three patients with cat bites to the hand required hospitalization. Furthermore, two-thirds of those admitted to the hospital needed surgery. Of the 193 patients in the study, which was published in the Journal of Hand Surgery, 57 had to be hospitalized for an average of three days. Thirty-eight of the 57 admitted needed surgery to irrigate the wounds or remove infected tissue. Eight of the patients in the study required more than one surgery.

The study also seemed to indicate that the bite can become serious fairly quickly. The average time between the incident to the person seeking medical care was only 27 hours, and 36 of the patients in the study required immediate hospitalization. Another 154 were first treated with oral antibiotics on an outpatient basis -- which had a failure rate of 14 percent.

The bite also doesn't have to be particularly large to cause a lot of damage. According to a Mayo Clinic surgeon, even a small pinpoint-size bite can let bacteria into the joint or tendon sheaths. The location of the bite matters because in these places, the bacteria is more protected from the body's immune system. Patients in the study who had been bitten on a joint in the hand or on the wrist were more likely to require hospital admittance. The bacteria in a cat bite can also be a factor, as some bites can include a strain that is difficult to treat with antibiotics but common in animals.

This study shows how important it is for doctors to take cat bites as seriously as dog bite injuries, even if they don't seem as physically damaging at first. Whether a person is injured from a dog bite or other animal attack, if the incident is caused by a negligent pet owner, the victim may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses or emotional pain.

Source: Medical Express, "One in three patients bitten by cats in hand hospitalized, infections common" No author given, Feb. 06, 2014

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