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Why are cat bites dangerous?

When you think of animal attacks, what do you see? Probably dogs and the damage they can do to a child or adult. Interestingly, they aren't the only animals that can be harmful if they attack, even though their attacks can look more devastating. In fact, cats can cause devastating infections in the human body after you're scratched or bitten.

Cat bites can lead to bacterial infections, and they're more likely to do so than dog bites, making them particularly dangerous. While the bites themselves may not seem as severe, the puncture wound can seal off bacteria that is pushed down and deep into the tissues. Sometimes, the only sign is pain and swelling that doesn't go away.

A study published in the Journal of Hand Surgery reported that close to a third of all people who went to the Mayo Clinic for treatment for a cat bite to the hand had to be hospitalized. Two-thirds of those patients then had to have surgery to flush out the wound and the remove tissues that were infected.

The most common reason a bite would lead to hospitalization is because it occurs over a joint or tendon. That can lead to pain, redness, and swelling. Those with immune-deficiency disorders are more likely to suffer from the infection spreading or persisting.

Cats are more likely to cause harm involving infection because of their sharp teeth. The puncture wounds can be deep and may tear through tissues or tendons. Joints in particular harbor bacteria because of closed spaces surrounding them, so they're more prone to infection.

Source: Minn Post, "Cat bites to the hand can cause serious infections, Mayo study finds," Perry, accessed March 02, 2016

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