Dog, Cat Bites Can Expose Victim to Many Pathogens

Bite wounds from pets common; complications can include sepsis, MRSA infections
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, June 23 (HealthDay News) -- Bites from pets are a common source of injury, and clinicians should be familiar with pathogens found in animal bites and the steps in managing these injuries, according to a review published in the July issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Richard L. Oehler, M.D., of the University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa, and colleagues write that dog and cat bites account for about 1 percent of emergency room visits annually in the United States. Common pathogens in dog bites include Pasteurella canis and Capnocytophaga canimorsus, and common pathogens in cat bites include Porphyromonas and Moraxella; both types also often contain Streptococcus and Staphylococcus.

The researchers note that severe infections may occur in about 20 percent of cases. Sepsis is a possible severe complication of bites, and these are often due to Pasteurella and C. canimorsus. In addition, colonization of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in domestic animals is becoming increasingly recognized. The treatment for pet-related MRSA infections is similar to regimens used for most community-acquired MRSA conditions, the authors write.

"Treatment of cat and dog bites should include wound assessment, deep culture, radiography, debridement, wound management, and rabies prophylaxis if applicable. Antibiotic therapy should be directed towards the anticipated pathogens. Health care providers are at the forefront of protecting the vital relationships between people and their pets," Oehler and colleagues conclude.

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