Animal bites

It all started with a good deed…..

On the way back from the school run we spotted a grey kitten running in the road. She was tiny and obviously too small to be out on her own. We soon worked out where she lived but unfortunately her owners were at work and not due back until the evening.

Having a young cat at home and therefore having litter, kitten food and bowls we decided I would take the kitten home with me to keep her safe until her owners returned. Our cat Sparkles seemed calm and interested as we carried the kitten inside and the kitten settled in to her room quickly.

About an hour later I popped into check on the kitten, Sparkles ran through the door behind me meowing and hissing going straight for the kitten! I quickly grabbed Sparkles and took her outside sustaining a number of bites to my right hand and a bite to my index finger on my left hand. Quite a shock as Sparkles is usually the most placid cat ever! She is usually being carried around or being dressed up and pushed around in a toy buggy by one of my children!

Luckily I knew that any animal bite that breaks the skin is at risk of getting infected so I washed all the wounds out thoroughly and applied antiseptic cream to all the wounds. I also got straight on the phone to my GP practice and quickly got an emergency appointment for antibiotics, which I started immediately, to prevent an infection developing.

Despite all of this by that night the skin around the bites was starting to become quite red and by the morning I had a fever and my right hand was red, hot and swollen and 2 abscesses had developed on my left index finger.

Within an hour of arriving in A&E I had been given IV antibiotics and 2 hours later I was in theatre having infected skin around the bites cut away and pus in the joints washed out. I had to remain in hospital for 3 days continuing on IV antibiotics and then complete another week of antibiotics at home. I also couldn’t return to work for 2 weeks and I then required hand therapy to build up the strength in my hands.

Speaking to the plastic surgery team who looked after me and carried out the surgery my scenario wasn’t unusual. Cat’s mouths are very dirty – potentially only beaten by human mouths! Despite doing everything right to prevent an infection a severe infection still developed. Luckily everything is now healing well and with hand therapy I now have full movement.

What should you do if you or your child is bitten by an animal or a human?

· Thoroughly wash out area under cool running water for a couple of minutes

· If the wound continues to bleed put a clean pad or sterile dressing over it and apply pressure

· Dry the wound and cover with a sterile dressing or plaster

· Any bite which breaks the skin should be seen by a doctor – get an emergency appointment with a GP or attend a walk in centre. If the wound is large or does not stop bleeding go to A&E.

· Monitor for Signs of infection:

· Redness and swelling around the wound

· Wounds feels hot and increasingly painful

· Liquid or pus leaks from the wound

· Fever (temperature 38C or above)

If you think the wound is infected see a doctor as soon as possible. Wound infections can potentially be very serious and can even progress to sepsis (severe overwhelming infection)

The Kitten was unharmed and reunited with her owner a few hours later. Sparkles has gone back to her normal self. I don’t think we will get a 2nd cat now though….

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