A cat, the family’s pet, licked a three-week old baby’s bottle and the baby ended up fighting for her life in hospital with meningitis. The bacteria that caused it resided in the mouth of the cat and is called Pasteurella multocida3.
However, it must be made extremely clear that it is very, very rare indeed for a person to contract meningitis from the family cat.
However, this particular bacteria is rather nasty and it is inside the mouths of animals generally. It is just that only 20% of dog bites become infected overall compared to 60% in cats and this particular bacterial infection is 10 times more likely after a cat bite that a dog bite.
High-risk patients, meaning people who have received a bite and are are a greater risk of contracting a serious illness are those with a suppressed immune system. Other patients similarly affected are those with prosthetic joints, diabetics, those have undergone mastectomy, those who have cirrhosis and those undergoing steroid therapy.
The wound should be cleaned out thoroughly and antibiotics administered but they should be administered with great care, apparently, because a commonly used antibiotic Erythromycin should never be used alone in treating bite wounds because more than 80% of Pasteurella multocida bacteria are resistant and if the treatment fails one possibility is that the person contracts meningitis2.
The reason why I’m mentioning this, in this short article, is that I don’t want newspapers to jump on this and exaggerate it and paint an inaccurate picture and I also want to highlight the fact that people suffering from immuno-suppression may carry a higher risk1 which should be factored in, if one is honest, when adopting a cat.
Although, as usual, it must be stated that it is always possible to avoid a cat bite. It is the hands of the person to manage themselves in relation to their cat, with good sense.
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23813817 – Pasteurella multocida infection in cats: ABCD guidelines on prevention and management.
- Public Health England- http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/InfectiousDiseases/InfectionsAZ/Pasteurellosis/Guidelines/pasAnimalBitesInfoforHealthcareStaff/
- BBC – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-the-papers-27074827