CAT BITE: AN INCIDENT NOT TO BE TAKEN LIGHTLY
Renee DiPietro, CVT
Veterinary Information Specialist, Permitted Wildlife Rehabilitator
Did you know that a bite from your furry friend Felis domesticus (house cat), can have dire consequences? As a person who very recently spent 3 days hospitalized on IV antibiotics for a cat bite, I thought I would share a little public service warning. If your cat, or any other cat for that matter ever bites you, don’t take it lightly or try to treat this injury at home.A couple of weeks ago I was bitten by a cat in the upper arm while working at a veterinary clinic. I cleaned the wounds well and then went straight to an urgent care facility as my own health care provider had no appointments available until the end of the day. Knowing what can happen if a cat bite goes untreated I chose urgent care. I cleaned the bites well, immediately. Within 2 hours of the bite I had been examined, treated, and started on oral antibiotics. For the rest of the day the heat and pain in and around the bite wounds grew. By evening I started to feel unwell but I attributed this to the anti-biotics. By bed time I was running a low- grade fever and the spreading redness and heat on my arm indicated that the bite wounds had become infected. We headed to the ER.
Now this is not my first cat bite rodeo, or even my first infected cat bite rodeo. (Studies show that 50 % of cat bites become infected) I have been bitten by cats, dogs, horses, hamsters, eagles, turtles, and even taloned by an owl during my career. I have always taken these wounds in stride as part of my occupation. This incident was different and more severe than I personally have ever experienced, but it not an uncommon outcome among cat bite victims. I am going to tell you why.
The bacterial flora in a cat’s mouth include some nasty anaerobic bacteria (thriving where oxygen is not present). The most common offender in the cat’s mouth is Pasteurella multocida. This bacteria is also present in the mouths of other animals that bite, but in cats the potential for this pathogen to cause serious infection is amplified by feline dental structure when a cat bite occurs. Cat’s teeth are sharp, like a needle. When a cat bites you they basically inject this aggressive pathogen (and others) deep into your tissue. This plunges the bacteria right into a warm, dark, low oxygen environment which is optimal for the development of infection. From there, an aggressive cellulitis (skin infection) can take root and spread quickly. Additional complications can include Osteomyelitis (bone infection), Sepsis, (a life threatening systemic response to infection), chronic local infection, disfigurement etc. Treatment for infected cat bites often requires hospitalization, treatment with IV antibiotics, surgery, and in rare cases amputations.
Studies have found that up to 90% of domestic cats carry Pasteurella in their mouths.
A Mayo Clinic study on infected cat bites found that 72 % of people hospitalized immediately after presentation to an ER for an infected cat bite required surgery as part of their medical treatment.
I am still on antibiotics, and the jury is still out on whether I will be having surgery.
Another significant concern when one is bitten by a cat, or any mammal, is the animal’s vaccine status and potential to transmit Rabies. Cats, like all other mammals can be infected with and carry Rabies. This neurologic virus if left untreated is almost always fatal. If you think the above described infection sounds bad, contracting Rabies would be astronomically worse. Once symptoms appear the chance for a good outcome (one where you don’t die) is basically nil.
Rabies is a public health hazard and if you are bitten by an unvaccinated mammal it is taken very seriously. The cat that bit me was not vaccinated. I have been vaccinated for Rabies for over 20 years and have always had good titers when checked every two years to make sure the vaccine was still protective in my system. Regardless of this, while in the ER I received rabies post exposure treatment. Fun times. For me this included several injections of Human Rabies Immune Globulin. They want to get this as close as they can to any potential Rabies virus particles in the bite wounds. In my case this meant that the injections were injected all around the bite wounds in the infected area. Can you say ouch? After that I also received a booster to my rabies vaccine and then 2 more boosters on days 2 and four after the bite. So much fun.
You can find pictures of my own personal incident at the bottom of this article. If you are squeamish you may want to avoid them. If you choose to look, you will see where the nurses in the hospital drew circles on my arm to track the infection as it spread.
Long story short, avoid cat bites at all costs. It is not worth the risk. How can you do this? With your own cat at home it is important to teach them from kitten hood that biting is not okay, even during play. It is best not to encourage rough play that involves your hands or other body parts with a kitten or adult cat.
For tips on teaching your cat or kitten not to bite, consult with your veterinarian or a pet behaviorist. Do not attempt medical procedures (taking a temperature for example) or significant grooming procedures on your own cat without assistance, (preferably professional experience) or proper training in cat restraint.
For your own safety, avoid petting cats on the street that you do not know, no matter how friendly they seem. If you are attempting to rescue a cat, wear thick gloves when handling it and have it examined immediately by a licensed veterinarian.
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Ward 1 Alderman Greg Walters addressed the Raytown Planning and Zoning Commission on the need to change the notification procedure used to alert Raytowners of zoning changes in their neighborhoods.
The current procedure calls for a “courtesy notice” to be sent to surrounding homeowners. The courtesy notice and be done personally or by First Class Mail.
“The courtesy notice was step in the right direction,” said Walters, “but it has not always been as effective as hoped.”
Walters reviewed three zoning applications where residents within 185’ had complained of not be notified of planned changes. He recommended the courtesy notice be required to be sent by certified letter through the United States Postal Service.
After discussing the proposal the members of the Commission voted 7 to 1 to recommend approval of the proposal.
The Board of Aldermen will now meet to consider the issue and make a final determination at the August 18th meeting of the Board.
PLANNING AND ZONING
Planning and Zoning’s role at City Hall is to review applications for zoning changes within Raytown’s borders. Members then pass their recommendation on to the Board of Aldermen for further review. The Board of Aldermen take the Commission’s recommendation into consideration when making their final review and vote on an application.
Missouri State Statutes allow for a Fourth Class City to create a Planning and Zoning Commission with a membership of 7 to 15 members.
Commissioners expressed concerns for the need to meet quorum requirements to hold future meetings.
On July 26th, at approx. 4:15 pm, officers were called to a business in the 9000 block of 350 Hwy regarding a robbery that had just occurred. The clerk reported that a man armed with a knife had just robbed the store and taken merchandise and cash. The subject was not immediately located in the area and the investigation is ongoing.
On July 26th, at approx. 8:30 pm, an officer was dispatched to Truman Medical Center regarding a shooting. An adult male reported that he had been at an apartment complex in Raytown with a friend when a man he did not know walked up to his car and shot him in the leg one time. He did not know where specifically in Raytown he was at the time of the incident. The investigation is ongoing.
On July 28th, at approx. 6 pm, officers were dispatched to a residence in the 8300 block of Spring Valley Rd regarding a robbery. The victim reported that he got into an argument with his friend. The friend punched him and then threatened him with a handgun before stealing a puppy from the residence. A suspect has been identified and the investigation is ongoing.