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Scratches and bites: Infections and diseases require medical care

When you're living with a pet or are visiting with someone who has one, you need to be aware that even a slight bite or scratch can be devastating to the body. If a pet bites, the owner needs to be held accountable for those injuries and the costs you accrue. Any kind of puncture wound or open cut can get infected and cause problems. For example, if you're scratched by a cat, it's possible to get a life-threatening infection from the bacteria on its teeth.

Children most often are bitten by dogs, but in most cases, pets will simply mouth the child. However, an aggressive or scared dog will bite and bite hard. This kind of bite can tear through the skin, bones, muscles and ligaments, potentially scarring and permanently injuring your child.

Cats are also able to scratch and bite through the skin. Cat scratch disease can result from a cat's bite. Cat scratch disease, also nicknamed cat scratch fever, is a bacterial infection that can affect the body. There may be no signs of infection, even though the wound is infected under the surface.

If your child is bitten or scratched by a dog or cat that you don't know, it's important to get emergency care for a number of potential infections and diseases. Some dogs and cats could carry rabies, which needs immediate treatment. In any case involving a bite, it's important to clean the wound to prevent infection. Medical care should be received by the victim. If the bite isn't serious enough to require emergency care, you should still speak with a doctor as soon as possible. Even minor bites can lead to low-grade infections that spread throughout the body with few symptoms.

Source: KidsHealth, "Bites and Scratches," accessed Dec. 24, 2015

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