Cat Bites Pose Little-Known Dangers
Diana Briske will never forget the day Snuggles attacked.
The calico cat was getting her regular evening petting when she suddenly bit into Ms. Briske's right hand. The wound didn't bleed, so Ms. Briske simply washed it out. The next morning, though, her hand was swollen and painful. She went to a doctor, who sent her directly to the emergency room.
Ms. Briske spent 10 days in the hospital, where surgeons repeatedly drained and cleaned the injury. 'I never dreamed in a thousand years I'd need hand surgery' from a cat bite, said the 62-year-old retiree from Rochester, Minn.
A new study by researchers at the Mayo Clinic has found that of 193 patients who came in for cat bites on their hands over a three-year period, 30% had to be hospitalized for an average stay of 3.2 days. Most of those admitted, like Ms. Briske, needed their wounds surgically cleaned to eliminate infections, according to the study, published this month in the Journal of Hand Surgery.
梅奥诊所(Mayo Clinic)研究人员进行的一项新研究发现，在三年的时间里，193名因手部被猫咬伤而前来就诊的病人中，有30%的人不得不住院治疗，其平均住院时间为3.2天。该研究论文于本月发表在《手外科杂志》(Journal of Hand Surgery)上，论文还称，大多数被收治的病人，如戴安娜，他们的伤口都需要手术清理以消除感染。
'Cat bites can be very serious, and when you do get an infection, it can be very difficult to treat,' said Brian T. Carlsen, a Mayo surgeon who was an author of the study. That's particularly true with a hand injury because of the structure of the tendons and joints, he said.
该研究的一名作者、梅奥诊所的外科医生布莱恩·T.卡尔森(Brian T. Carlsen)说：“被猫咬伤会非常严重，当你真的感染后，将会很难治疗。”他还说，如果是手部被咬伤，因为其肌腱和关节的结构，情况更是如此。
An estimated 45.3 million U.S. households had cats in 2012, up from 38.4 million in 2006, according to the American Pet Products Association. Pets may reduce stress in, and lift the mood of, their owners, some studies suggest. But a growing body of research, in fields ranging from psychology to parasitology, points to possible health concerns.
据美国宠物产品协会(American Pet Products Association)称，2006年，全美有3,840万户家庭养了猫，这一数据在2012年估计升至4,530万。一些研究表明，宠物可能会减少主人的压力并改善他们的情绪。但越来越多的研究——从心理学到寄生虫学领域——都指出了宠物可能带来的健康问题。
Cats' sharp teeth often penetrate deeply, creating punctures that may not appear serious but can easily harbor bacteria that live in the animals' mouths. Cat bites represent around 10% to 15% of emergency-room visits tied to animal bites, according to the Mayo paper. Cat scratches can also cause infections, doctors say.
Dogs are involved in a far larger percentage of bite-related emergency-room visits, but they tend to pose a different type of hazard. They will often create a bigger wound, but they don't have the needlelike effect of cat bites that can plant bacteria deep in the flesh, doctors say.
For reasons that aren't clear, research has suggested a possible link between cat bites and human depression. David A. Hanauer, an associate professor at the University of Michigan Medical School, analyzed electronic health records of around 1.3 million patients seen by the university's health system and found that 41% of those treated for cat bites were also diagnosed at some point with depression. 'There definitely is an association there,' said Dr. Hanauer. But, he said, 'we don't know why,' and the link doesn't necessarily imply causation. The research was published in August in PLOS ONE.
研究已表明，在猫咬伤和人类抑郁之间可能存在着某种关联，其原因目前尚不清楚。密歇根大学医学院(University of Michigan Medical School)副教授大卫·A.哈诺尔(David A. Hanauer)分析了由该校医疗卫生系统收治的约130万病患的电子健康记录，结果发现因为猫咬伤而就诊的病人中有41%的人也被诊断为患有某种程度上的抑郁症。哈诺尔博士说：“这其中绝对存在著有某种关联。”但他也称，“我们不知道原因”，而且这种关联并不一定就意味着因果关系。这项研究的论文于去年8月份发表在《公共科学图书馆综合卷》(PLOS ONE)上。
Cats also pick up parasites from the environment and can pass those along to people. Around 10% to 20% of people in the U.S. are infected with Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite cats can get from eating infected animals, such as rodents and birds, and then shed in their feces. It typically has little impact on healthy people. But it poses a danger to the fetuses of pregnant women, which can get a syndrome whose symptoms include blindness and mental disability, and to people with weakened immune systems, who may suffer central nervous system damage.
A number of studies in recent years have suggested a possible association between toxoplasma infections and an increased risk of serious psychological issues in humans, including schizophrenia and suicidal behavior. 'There's moderate evidence' of a link, said Robert H. Yolken, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who co-wrote a 2012 analysis examining research on toxoplasma and schizophrenia. One possible reason is that the parasite might boost the presence of the chemical dopamine in the brain, he said. Also, he said, any potential impact is likely more significant if the infection occurs at a young age.
近年来大量的研究已表明，在弓形虫感染与人类严重心理问题风险攀升——包括精神分裂症和自杀行为——两者之间可能存在着某种关联。约翰霍普金斯大学(Johns Hopkins University)教授罗伯特·H.约肯(Robert H. Yolken)说，“目前有一些证据”表明这种关联的存在。约肯于2012年与他人合着了一篇探讨弓形虫与精神分裂症研究的分析。他说，一个可能的原因是，寄生虫也许会增加大脑中化学物质多巴胺的分泌。他还称，如果感染发生在幼年期，任何潜在的影响都可能会更为显著。
Animal experts say proper precautions should minimize health risks from owning a cat. 'The presence of a cat in the house poses very little risk' for toxoplasma infection, said Jeffrey L. Jones, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People shouldn't get infected if they are careful with litter boxes and wash and thoroughly cook their own food.
动物专家们称，适当的防护措施应该能将养猫的健康风险降至最低。美国疾病控制与预防中心(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)流行病学家杰弗里·L.琼斯(Jeffrey L. Jones)说：“让一只猫在家里出没几乎不会形成（弓形虫感染）的风险。”如果人们能够小心地处理猫砂盆，并彻底清洗、煮熟他们自己的食物，就应该不会染上弓形虫。
'If you practice good hygiene, you'll be fine,' said Aaron Glatt, an infectious-disease specialist who is chief administrative officer at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre, N.Y.
纽约洛克维尔中心区(Rockville Centre)莫西医学中心(Mercy Medical Center)首席行政长、传染病学专家亚伦·格拉特(Aaron Glatt)说：“如果你能践行良好的个人卫生习惯，就没有问题。”
One possible health benefit of cat ownership: a 'pet protective effect' against allergies and asthma, which has surfaced in some studies. Kids who grow up living with a cat appear 'less likely to develop allergy' to the animals, which, like other allergies, can be a trigger for asthma, said Matthew S. Perzanowski, an associate professor at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.
养猫可能带来的一个健康好处是：一种能够抵御过敏和哮喘的“宠物保护效应”，一些研究已经指出了这一效应。哥伦比亚大学梅尔曼公共卫生学院 (Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health)副教授马修·S.帕札洛斯基(Matthew S. Perzanowski)说，那些和猫咪一起长大的孩子似乎“更不易对动物产生过敏”。动物跟其他过敏源一样，可能会引发哮喘。
Humans can avoid other cat-related health problems by treating the animals properly to reduce the danger of attacks. For instance, if a cat shows signs of stress, such as putting its ears back, lashing its tail or crouching, people shouldn't approach it and should make sure it doesn't feel trapped, said Katie Lisnik, an official with the Humane Society of the United States.
通过正确对待猫咪来减少它们袭击的危险，人类能够避免其它与猫相关的健康问题。比如，美国人道协会(Humane Society of the United States)官员凯蒂·利斯尼克(Katie Lisnik)说，如果一只猫表现出遭受压力的迹象，如竖起耳朵向后折拢、摆动尾巴或蜷缩蹲伏，人们就不该接近它了，而且应该确保不要让它觉得自己陷入了困境。
Indeed, Ida Lyke blames herself for the bite she got from her cat Sylvester. After she broke up his fight with another cat, Ms. Lyke, who lives in Claremont, Minn., and was also part of the Mayo study, tried to pick him up. He latched onto the bottom of her right hand. Ms. Lyke ended up in the hospital with a serious infection. Still, the 79-year-old kept Sylvester after the incident. 'He was just a lovable kitty,' she said.