According to Sinar Harian, an Australian grandmother has died from bacterial meningitis after her pet cat scratched her and then licked the wounds on her arm.
The woman’s pet cat, Minty, was curled up beside the 80-year-old woman when she was found and is thought to have licked a wound on her skin during the night. Her family said that she was unresponsive in bed and was rushed to Box Hill Hospital in Melbourne in May.
There, the woman spent nine days in a coma before being taken off life support. The hospital stated that bacterial meningitis is rarer but deadlier than viral meningitis and can kill victims in a matter of hours.
The doctors in Melbourne even stated that currently, they see around one patient per week with infections caused by the bacteria in cat saliva. The woman’s family is now warning people of the dangers of cat scratches and bites, especially for people with weakened immune systems.
A bacteria named Pasteurella is a normal part of the oral and respiratory systems of cats but it is known to cause meningitis in humans. Around half of all cats at some point also carry a bacteria named Bartonella, which causes cat-scratch disease.
Lindsay Grayson, an infectious diseases director at Melbourne’s Austin Hospital, urged the public to take the risk from cat scratches seriously.
“It is a big deal and it is emerging more and more now as an unrecognised cause of heart valve infection, which is obviously fatal if untreated,” he said.
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