Animal bites can become quite severe very quickly, or lay dormant for a time period. Individual, fox, bat, squirrel, cat, and dog bites are the most frequent and the worst bites in decreasing order inducing cellulites, abscess, and infections of the skin. With the exception of individual bites this is the diminishing order for rabies infection. Rabies is an infection that usually is caused by an animal being bitten by an infected animal. The same thing can happen to a human from this disease procedure. If you’re stung by a wild animal, pet, or neighbors pet, you need to make sure that you have or can get the animal’s immunization records to ensure that they have had their rabies vaccine and it is current. If not you may have to receive a rabies vaccine series of injections.
The P’s of pet bites described by Lewis Pasture are still generally true now. Pet’s often get a bacterial infection from pasturelli, a bacteria discovered by Lewis Pasture. Peptostreptococcus, staphylococcus aureus, and staphylococcus skin often found in the gingival, the pockets of the pets mouth where the tooth meets the gums, and at the plaque on the animals teeth. When one of these animals bites or nips you most of the time it’s a superficial scraping that usually drains to the surface. However, when they bite you and penetrate the skin deeply and leave these bacteria in the skin they can cause very serious infections.
For some reason cats seem to have a low incidence with bites of a first showing infection. However, when they do get infected these organisms can be devastating. The farther you go away from the heart or down the extremity to the finger tips or toes, the greater the higher likelihood for infection because of less blood supply led from these sites. In other words an upper arm or thigh is generally less likely to become infected then the finger tips and toes. Lower extremity bites usually appear to be worse than upper extremities.
Hand bites from cats perhaps worse because their kind of tooth structure is more porus and contains more bacteria. The cats tooth penetrates deeper leaving more germs therefore getting infected. The wound may be warm, red, and swollen within a few hours. In 12, 24, or 48 hours the wound can truly swell with 1/4 to a 1/2 cup of pus under the skin. This is known as blood poisoning. The heart pumps blood to the tips of the extremities and the veins usually contribute about 99 percent of the blood back. However, the lymphatics bring the infection and this additional 1 percent back towards the heart. Lymphatics are extremely soft vessels something like a latex surgical glove. They have one way valves, and nodes with high concentrations of cellular antibodies to kill the bacteria. These valves and nodes are usually located on the flexor sides of a joint i.e. behind the knees or on the flexor surface.
The reddish streaking you see especially often in cat bites indicates lymphatic infection which is not under control and this can cause blood poisoning, amputation of the extremity, sepsis, and even death without proper immediate treatment. Immediate use of tablet antibiotics of a synthetic PCN mixed with clavulinic acid which can help stop antibiotic resistance to the germs is necessary. Additionally likely an injection of something like a 3rd generation cephalosporin and an aminoglycocide such as gentamicin with redness and red streaking are probably essential to rapidly stop the infection. The germs double exponentially about every 20 minutes creating a massive pus pocket, often requiring major substantial surgical drainage. This is often performed at work but sometimes it is essential to be done from the O.R. with drains for those who are resistant to immediately starting antibiotic therapy or waiting a few days. The current correct therapy for an abscess is drainage.
We are required by law and do report animal bites. After infection there may be pain for some time and the worry is that the bite may have gone down and nicked a bone causing a periostal cellulitis of the bone. This may need IV for months of treatment. It could require a nuclear bone scan to establish whether the bite infected the bone. The bone could become infected without proper care and cause significant and progressive degeneration of the bone crumbling and weakening the bone and having you quite sick. Fever, chills, and rigors, vibration are all signs of skin cellulites, abscess, subcutaneous skin, under the skin ailments, and even sepsis a disease of the bacteria in the blood.
If it is a wild animal that bit you, it generally has to be immobilized for diagnosis of rabies. Verification of pet immunizations for rabies is essential and don’t hesitate or wait to have this treated by your physician and probably be put on antibiotics. Many and many infections will only heal from many domestic animals. You will usually know fairly quickly the infected ones will begin getting hot and swollen and will not get any better. When in doubt see your doctor. This is an absolute that the earlier the better treatment that has to be evaluated by an experienced physician. Make certain to get your tetanus immunization and keep it current. If you are taking steroids, immune suppression, blood disorders, cancer, major organ disease like kidney failure, heart problems seeing your doctor as soon as possible is even more important