Don't take cat bites lightly

 While all injuries to the hand caused by human and animal bites should receive medical care, infections due to dog bites occur at less than half the rate of cat bites, says a study.

IANS| Last Updated: Jan 06, 2015, 18:51 PM IST

Washington: While all injuries to the hand caused by human and animal bites should receive medical care, infections due to dog bites occur at less than half the rate of cat bites, says a study.

"An estimated 30 percent to 50 percent of cat bites are complicated by infections, which can occur as early as three hours after injury in approximately 50 percent of the infection cases," the study noted.

"Although many people may be reluctant to immediately go to a doctor, all bites to the hand should receive medical care," said orthopaedic surgeon and lead study author Stephen Kennedy from University of Washington.

"And while routine antibiotics are not necessarily recommended for other bite wounds, they are recommended for a bite to the hand to reduce the risk of infection and disability," Kennedy added.

Symptoms of infection include erythema (redness), edema (swelling), progressive pain, and fever, the researchers who reviewed literature concerning hand injuries caused by human and animal bites.

Cats do not have the jaw strength of dogs; however, their sharp, narrow teeth also can cause serious injury, they said.

The researchers noted that in case of a bite injury, it is important to inspect the hand carefully for any puncture wounds as even a small wound can inject virulent bacteria under the skin.

"If there is a puncture wound of any size, wash as soon as possible with soap and water then seek medical advice," they added.

The findings appeared in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS).