A man bitten by a stray cat contracted an infection unknown to science

As a result of a stray cat bite, a 48-year-old man from the UK became infected with a never-before-seen type of bacteria. The severity of the immune response was alarming: just eight hours after the bite, his hands were significantly swollen. This case sheds light on the potential dangers of cat bites and the hidden pathogens they can carry.

An invisible threat

After seeking medical attention, the man’s wounds were cleaned and dressed, he was given a tetanus shot and prescribed antibiotics. However, his condition worsened and he returned to hospital the following day. The little finger and middle finger of his left hand were painfully enlarged, and both forearms were red and swollen.

Doctors had no choice but to surgically remove the damaged tissue surrounding his wounds. An intravenous injection of three different antibiotics was required, followed by a course of oral antibiotics. Fortunately, the treatment was successful and the man made a full recovery.

The emergence of a new bacterium

While the man was recovering, doctors could not figure out what bacteria had caused his infection. Analyzing samples from his wounds, they found a streptococcus-like microorganism that had not previously been reported. Further genetic sequencing revealed that it belonged to the genus Globicatella, a species of Gram-positive bacteria.

Comparison with other related strains such as G. sulfidfaciens showed that the newly discovered bacterium differs from it by about 20%. This significant difference indicates that it is a distinct, previously undescribed species. Although the new strain responded well to some antibiotics, it serves as a warning to the public about the potential dangers lurking in cats.

Cats as reservoirs of unknown pathogens

This example emphasizes the role of cats as reservoirs for undiscovered species of bacteria that may be dangerous to humans. Bites and scratches inflicted by cats result in approximately 66,000 emergency room visits in the United States each year. Many of these cases require antibiotics or even surgery to prevent serious infections.

Cats, like all animals, can carry dangerous pathogens. Their sharp teeth and claws allow them to penetrate deep into the skin, making it difficult to fight infection. If attacked by a stray cat, experts advise to gently wash the wound with soap and salt and seek medical attention immediately.

Warning sign

The publication of this case in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases serves as a wake-up call to the public about the potential risks associated with cat bites. This case emphasizes the need to exercise awareness and caution when interacting with stray cats or any other animals that may be carriers of unknown pathogens.

Dr. Sarah Johnson, a veterinarian specializing in zoonotic diseases, warns, “Although cats may seem harmless and cute, their bites can lead to severe infections. It’s important to seek medical attention in a timely manner to prevent complications.”

Dr. Michael Thompson, a microbiologist at the University of London, adds: “The discovery of this new bacterium highlights the importance of studying animal-borne diseases. Cats, whether domestic or stray, can serve as a reservoir for unknown pathogens that pose a risk to human health.”

Streptococci are a genus of gram-positive bacteria known to cause a variety of diseases, including meningitis, pharyngitis, bacterial pneumonia and conjunctivitis. However, the recently discovered bacterium does not match any of the known strains of the genus.

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