Newspaper article

10 at 10: Susan Perry on the Mysteriously Enduring Popularity of a Story on Cat Bites

Newspaper article

10 at 10: Susan Perry on the Mysteriously Enduring Popularity of a Story on Cat Bites

Article excerpt

To mark MinnPost’s 10th anniversary, our writers and editors have dug into the archives to highlight stories that have stuck with them over the years, a series we’re calling MinnPost 10 at 10.

Today, we hear from Susan Perry, who writes the consumer health column Second Opinion, about a story that continues to draw many (many, many) readers — almost four years after it was first published.

In April 2016, I received an email from a woman living in rural Indiana. She wrote to tell me that an article I had written had helped save her from undergoing major hand surgery — and possibly losing some of the use of her hand. Her story went like this:

She had been bitten on the knuckle while playing with a cat. It had been a playful bite, but was strong enough to break the skin.

“I washed it and put on a band aid and forgot about it,” the woman wrote. “[But] before I went to bed I read your article about cat bites. I was truly surprised this was serious. I hadn’t planned to do anything about the bite.”

The next morning, after finding out that her own doctor was out of town, the woman drove herself to a hospital emergency department some miles away. She does not say what her symptoms were at that point, but they were certainly serious, for she was immediately admitted to the hospital and put on intravenous antibiotics.

“The doctor said I could lose my hand,” the woman recalled.

She remained in the hospital for two days, and took oral antibiotics for another 10 days.

“[If] I hadn’t read your article when I did, I would have had a longer hospital stay, possible surgery,” the woman wrote in her email. “But now I have my hand which works perfectly.”

The article that the woman referred to is one I had written more than two years before, in February 2014. It describes a Mayo Clinic study on cat bites to the hand, which can cause difficult-to-treat bacterial infections. …

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