1 yo bitten by cat :: no tetanus - Mothering Forums
Vaccinations > 1 yo bitten by cat :: no tetanus
show&tell's Avatar show&tell 11:08 PM 10-21-2009
My 1 year old was bitten by a cat at her family daycare. It was their neighbors cat that is frequently outdoors. It is a superficial bite, but did break the skin. My daughter hasn't had any tetanus shots. Wondering what you would do in this situation. Thanks!

franklinmarxmom's Avatar franklinmarxmom 11:24 PM 10-21-2009
I am not a hyper-cautious mama when it comes to injuries, but I am VERY cautious with cat bites. Cat bites are notorious for causing infections, and I have known several people (adults) with hospital stays as a result of cat bites that became infected. They are much worse than dogs or humans in their infection rate, in part because they are puncture wounds that can seal up quickly and keep the bad bacteria trapped inside.

I wouldn't freak out and run to the ped or ER, but I would watch for ANY signs of infection if the skin broke--swelling, redness, irritation, discoloration, fever. And I would call the doc at the first sign of anything.

That doesn't say anything about tetanus, but just exercise extra care and watch closely.
MountainMamaGC's Avatar MountainMamaGC 11:38 PM 10-21-2009
If its not a deep punture wound I would not be worried about tetanus. Watch for signs of other infection though. Clean it with breastmilk if you are nursing.
show&tell's Avatar show&tell 12:58 AM 10-22-2009
Thanks for your advice, I appreciate it tremendously.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lydiah View Post
Clean it with breastmilk if you are nursing.
Should I still clean it with breastmilk even if it has already started healing? The bite happened yesterday. Thanks.
FernG's Avatar FernG 02:03 AM 10-22-2009
I've had the same experience w/ my unvaccinated DD. I also cleaned it with breastmilk and didn't worry anymore. Breastmilk doesn't hurt to squirt on the wound even if it's scabed over. I've treated infected, scabbed wounds with topical breastmilk with great results.
bookwormommy's Avatar bookwormommy 12:15 PM 10-22-2009
The concern with a cat bite isn't tetanus, it's the nasty bacteria in a cat's mouth that thrive in the absence of oxygen, i.e. a puncture wound. This is why cats so often get an abscess as a result of a cat bite. Tetanus isn't one of these bacteria, though.

If a bite wound is at all deep, it often takes antibiotics or a comparable treatment to fight infection. If it's shallow enough that it can get oxygen, then basic wound care is adequate.

If you wait to see, and notice any kind of red streaks going out from the wound, treat it as an emergency. It could lead to a bacterial infection in the blood, which isn't good news at any age.
phatchristy's Avatar phatchristy 01:23 PM 10-22-2009
I'm rather conservative when it comes to medication, etc. and one of the few times I've had antibiotics was with a cat bite. With a great deal of experience in the cat fancy I definitely know how quickly they can escalate. I actually know someone who wound up almost loosing their hand from one, and this was within 24 hours of getting bitten. Hospitalization, surgery and lots of IV antibiotics finally helped hers. I've read that about 50% of them get infected, this is because of the high level of bacteria in their mouths and the nature of having a deep puncture wound.

If there wasn't actually a puncture wound, but more of a scrape/cut by the teeth, then I would not obviously be as worried. If that happend to me I definitely would clean the wound very effectively, then apply a triple antibiotic ointment 3x a day for 3 days.

I've maybe had antibiotics here 2x in the last 15 years too. One of those was a cat fight, the other was for a ragingly severe UTI that came on after my second DD was born. I'm really conservative with it, only one of my 4 kiddos has ever had antibiotics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bookwormommy View Post
The concern with a cat bite isn't tetanus, it's the nasty bacteria in a cat's mouth that thrive in the absence of oxygen, i.e. a puncture wound. This is why cats so often get an abscess as a result of a cat bite. Tetanus isn't one of these bacteria, though.

If a bite wound is at all deep, it often takes antibiotics or a comparable treatment to fight infection. If it's shallow enough that it can get oxygen, then basic wound care is adequate.

If you wait to see, and notice any kind of red streaks going out from the wound, treat it as an emergency. It could lead to a bacterial infection in the blood, which isn't good news at any age.

angie7's Avatar angie7 01:25 PM 10-22-2009
I would just clean it with peroxide (not nursing so bm isn't an option for me) for an injury that you describe. Cat bites can be pretty nasty but usually if they are really deep, puncture wounds. If hers is already starting to heal and it's not red, then she'll be fine.
birdiefu's Avatar birdiefu 10:49 PM 10-22-2009
Cat bites can be serious things, but not because of tetanus. The bacteria in a cats mouth can cause major infection in a wound, especially a puncture wound. In my days of being a vet tech, I have had many a cat bite, but managed not to need abx for any of them (including one through my fingernail into the nail bed-ouch!). One of the most important things to do when you get a cat bite is to *immediately* wash with soap under running water, and squeeze the area to encourage bleeding (helps get the bacteria out). I would continue this for about 5 minutes or so. As the wound is healing keep a very close eye on any swelling or signs of infection, and I would put some antibacterial ointment on it (but BM would be great!). I can usually get away with eventual mild swelling under the wound and some pink coloration and warmth of the skin as long at it doesn't start up right away, but would not recommend someone without experience with cat bites to let it get too bad. They can get bad quickly. Most definitely go to the doctor if you see purple/red streaks under the skin, moving away from the wound, this can indicate blood poisoning and will need treatment ASAP.

Aside from the infection issue from the cat's saliva, there is also the question of the cat's rabies status. Any bite by a cat or dog needs to be reported. If you know the owner of the cat well, they can get with their vet for the proper procedure. If the cat is up-to-date on rabies vaccine, all they should need is a 10-day in-home quarantine (that means no exposure to any other people or kids). If the owner will not cooperate with you, you can contact animal control to initiate the bite report proceedings. Rabies is rare, but pretty much 100% fatal, and not eradicated from our domestic pet population. There have been cute little kittens in shelters with rabies, resulting in a lot of people exposed to get rabies prophylaxis (which isn't fun).

If it's been a day or so and there are no signs of infection and wasn't all that deep, I wouldn't be too concerned, but still keep an eye on it to be on the safe side.
JamesMama's Avatar JamesMama 01:06 AM 10-23-2009
I wouldn't worry about teatnus per say, but like PP's have said cat bites are nasty.

When I was 12 I got Cat-Scratch Fever (like the song...) I survived, it's a virus that had to run its course. Just had a node swell up in my throat so it looked like I swallowed a tennis ball, great fun.
MountainMamaGC's Avatar MountainMamaGC 01:14 AM 10-23-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by show&tell View Post
Thanks for your advice, I appreciate it tremendously.


Should I still clean it with breastmilk even if it has already started healing? The bite happened yesterday. Thanks.
If its scabbed up and healing nicely then dont worry about it. If its red and icky then I would do the breast milk. In the future if your child or even you get and small cuts or scratches, breastmilk is great for cleaning out the wound. The antibodies will kill any germs and the breastmilk itself is sterile.
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