This is a strange case in which a woman who fed a stray cat, and who loved that cat, died after the stray bit her. The woman’s name is Gabriele Kreichgauer. She lived in London. She was not a frail old lady but she may have had a compromised immune system.
She called her stray cat friend “Tiggy” and apparently she came into her Woolwich garden regularly. The cat bit her. We don’t know the reason. Gabriele went to the local Accident & Emergency wing at Newham General Hospital Council on 21st January after the bite.
We don’t know how long she waited before she went to hospital. This is probably an important factor but we are not told about it.
At hospital she was seen by a junior doctor who diagnosed her with cat scratch fever using the assistance of a computer to help him or her decide what treatment was needed. Clearly the doctor misdiagnosed Gabriele. Comment: a cat bite does not look like cat scratch fever so this was a bad error.
However, if you read between the lines it’s clear to me that at the time she presented herself at Accident & Emergency there must have been signs of infection where the cat had bitten her because to diagnose cat scratch fever you are looking at redness and inflammation on the skin. In fact the infection may have been quite widespread at that time.
This implies that she had waited some time before going to hospital after the bite. At hospital she was prescribed antibiotics but did not take any at hospital. In other words the hospital sent her way to go to a pharmacy to get her antibiotics and then take them at home. That too was a mistake because sepsis developed and she died two days later at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich. Although the coroner said that taking antibiotics would not have saved her. I think he/she meant that antibiotics in pill form at that time would not have worked.
Sepsis is when an infection is not contained by the person’s immune system but spreads throughout the body causing inflammation generally within the body which then damages the organs causing death if it is untreated. As I understand, it the treatment for sepsis is antibiotics but they will be delivered intravenously on a continual drip and at a high dosage for a considerable time. Gabriele never received this intensive antibiotic treatment.
This story is an example of how, extremely rarely, a cat bite can kill you. It’s a case of being vigilant. I know it sounds flippant and perhaps I shouldn’t say it but if Gabriele had had the experience she would have taken antibiotics immediately there were signs of infection i.e. redness around the site of the bite. Caught early the infection will be killed off quite easily and quickly but it was sadly allowed to develop and the doctor didn’t help.
This woman was an animal lover and she cared deeply for animal welfare and her Tiggy. I feel terribly sad for her family, particularly her 28-year-old daughter who is angry that she wasn’t treated properly.
“She had a huge compassion for animals and used to love all types of animals.”
May she rest in peace. The world has lost an animal lover. My condolences.