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Friday, July 12, 2019

Be Careful what you Step (or Fall) in!

When it comes to pets, you either love them or hate them. If you love them, many of us can be separated into two camps: cat lovers or dog lovers. I happen to like both, but tend to lean towards cats. I have two. My older male cat may be a grumpy gus, but he loves his belly rubs and he loves to groom me. Not all cats groom “their” people, and frankly with his sandpaper like tongue and penchant for nibbling while he’s grooming, I sometimes wish he didn't love me as much as he does… 
The problem with pets is there is the chance for transmission of zoonotic diseases. Case in point is a study that was presented at ASM Microbe at the end of June that investigated 79 cases of pet associated Pasteurella multocida infections with reports of novel modes of non-bite transmission.  Pasteurella multocida is a common cause of infection following bites or scratches caused by dogs, and (especially) cats. If infection occurs, cellulitis at the site of injury is often the first thing that is present, but it can develop into a chronic infection of deep tissues. Of interest (at least to me) is that infectious complications occur in more than 50% of the cat-related bites and that cats of the female persuasion are most often to blame. Dog bites account for 15-20% of the reported infections and are generally associated with younger animals engaging in playful activities, mostly with children. 

In the study, 34 of the 79 cases of infection were not associated with bites or scratches. Of further concern was the fact that these infections were life-threatening. Upon investigation, some of the novel modes of transmission included:

  • Stepping on dog drool and contaminating a foot ulcer
  • Contamination of a wound by socks covered with cat hairs and dander
  • Falling down when drunk and contaminating abrasions with dog saliva
  • Epiglottitis after eating peanut butter and crackers that had been half-eaten by a dog

     As a cat lover, I would like to point out the it would appear that dog owners (or friends of dog owners) seem to lead a far more “adventurous” life or at the very least seem to throw caution to the wind expanding the 5-second rule to include eating not just food that has fallen on the floor, but to food that has been partly eaten by dogs… 

As saliva, dander and cat hair can be picked up from the floors, cleaning and disinfection of floors and other surfaces can help stop the chance of infection transmission. Pasturella is a gram-negative bacteria that is not spore forming, meaning that it is relatively easy to kill with the use of most Health Canada or EPA registered disinfectants.  

Infections, particularly potentially deadly ones are not a laughing matter. Pets are a part of our family.  They would not knowingly make us sick, but the next time you are bitten or scratched while playing with your pet, you may want to consider cleaning it thoroughly and keep an eye on wound to make sure it does not get infected. If like me, you have a cat who loves to groom you, try to keep the grooming to areas of your skin that do not have cuts!

Bugging Off!


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