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Beware of the cat: Bites lead to infection, steep medical bills

When we discuss animal attacks in this Michigan Personal Injury Law Blog, the topic tends to surround a dog bite. This is because, unfortunately, dog bites are somewhat common. A recent news report reminds us that another type of household pet is much more dangerous than people think: the cat.

Many people do not recognize that cat bites are actually quite dangerous. As many as 50 percent of cat bites reportedly become infected, according to the head of an infectious-diseases department at a university hospital. Cats tend to leave puncture wounds when they bite and cats have a lot of bacteria in their mouths that are dangerous to humans.

For these reasons, a recent special report in The Washington Post advised people to seek medical care after sustaining a cat bite puncture wound. It is generally wise to be examined right away as most of these bites might warrant antibiotics, according to the report.

About 90 percent of domestic cats carry Pasteurella multocida, which can cause very bad infections, according to the news report. A New York public health department study reported that 13 percent of animal bite emergency room visits involve cat bites, and some people are even hospitalized due to infection after suffering a cat bite.

The Washington Post report was written by a reporter who suffered a cat bite herself, resulting in a serious infection, four days in the hospital and more than $15,000 in medical bills.

This woman was bitten by her own cat, and her insurance company reportedly covered her costs. When people are bitten by another person's cat, it may be possible to obtain compensation for medical bills and other expenses from the cat owner and/or his or her insurance company. Those who have suffered an animal bite of any kind may be wise to seek legal counsel to learn whether compensation may be available.

Source: York Daily Record, "Why cat bites can be more dangerous than you think," Marie Joyce, Jan. 23, 2013

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