It is well known that being bitten by an animal can cause personal injuries, which can be even more dangerous due to possible infections caused by several bacterial species carried in the animal’s mouths. However, it has now been shown that yet another infection can be added to that list: meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Typically, cat and dog bites contain a mix of anaerobes and aerobes, including at least 30 pathogens that could potentially be transmitted from the mouth of an animal to a person. These pathogens include species of Pasteurella, Streptococcus, Fusobacterium, and Capnocytophaga. Approximately 20 percent of all dog and cat bites can result in a severe infection due to these pathogens.
Typically, petting or handling pets carries an extremely low risk of infection. Typically, bacteria that cause infections are transmitted via bites and scratches.
In the year 2001, more than 350,000 U.S. residents received emergency room treatment for nonfatal dog-bite-related personal injuries. Each year in America, approximately one percent of all emergency room visits are for dog and cat bites. Sixty percent of animal bites are by dogs, with another 10-20 percent being by cats. Each year, health care costs associated with animal bites are an estimated $1 billion.
Treatment of MRSA infections caused by pets is the same as for infections caused by other sources. Oral antibiotics can be used to treat mild-to-moderate infections, whereas more serious infections require treatment with parenteral drugs.
Bites are wounds that a prone to developing tetanus. Crush injuries, hand wounds, puncture wounds, wounds with extensive devitalized tissue, heavily contaminated wounds, and wounds left untreated are bite wounds with a higher risk of infection.