It’s enough to make you think twice about roughhousing with a cat.
When a cat bites a person’s hand and the skin turns red, the wound needs prompt attention to prevent a deep-set infection that’s difficult to treat, a study finds. Nearly one-third of such bites that drove people to seek medical attention required the patient to be hospitalized, and many required surgery, researchers report.
Although cat bites have vexed emergency room doctors for decades, most research has provided only anecdotal information on the risk involved. So Brian Carlsen, a hand surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and his team reviewed every cat bite to the hand that sent an individual to a Mayo Clinic doctor’s office or ER from 2009 to 2011. Hands are the most common target of cat bites. They also have a lot of tendons and joints, which lack circulation and thus are prone to bad infections because they are largely unprotected by circulating immune cells.
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