Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hazardous Duty

People who see my "baby face" posts and "Ooh and Aah" over the puppies and kittens are sometimes envious of me. Well, before everyone signs up to work in a veterinary office, let me assure you, my job isn't always great. Here are two of the hazards that come with being a veterinarian.

Cat bites. This one happened very quickly, which is typical, when we were trying to put a fractious cat into a "cat box," a Plexiglas chamber designed to allow us to anesthetize small animals with minimal risk. My adrenaline level was so high, I didn't feel the bite until after the cat was safely confined.

There are actually two puncture wounds, holes left over from the cat's canine ("fang") teeth. This is the deeper, more "ouchy" one. The other one is pretty mild. He got me on the fleshy part of my right forearm, and though it looks yucky, it isn't too bad, as bites go. It has been a long time since I was bitten, so I guess I was due.

This photo doesn't look as dramatic, but it will probably be worse than the bite wound in the long run. That's because I am pretty sure that these small, red, raised, and VERY ITCHY bumps are the beginning of ringworm.

Ringworm isn't really a worm, but a fungal infection of hair and skin cells more properly called dermatophytosis. Ringworm is a zoonotic disease, meaning it is highly contagious from cats, the most common carrier, to people. Dogs and guinea pigs are other pets which can contract and spread ringworm.

My technician and I handled a ringworm-positive kitten nine days ago, which is how I was exposed. Diagnosing the kitten was easy - his owner was covered in red,
itchy, circular, "ring" lesions from sleeping with it snuggled up against her neck. Despite being forewarned and taking reasonable precautions, it looks like I have caught ringworm (again.) The word is still out on my tech - she was OK today, but she is as susceptible as I am to this bug, so we are hoping she is in the clear.

Luckily, I can diagnose and treat myself for these job-related maladies, up to a point. For the cat bite on Tuesday, I scrubbed the wounds immediately with an antiseptic cleanser. The boss' 5 year old, my birding buddy, was very concerned. She put a Band-Aid on the larger of the two punctures, which I'm certain saved the day!

I then
called my doctor for an antibiotic, telling the receptionist what had occurred and what drug I needed. After a brief power struggle, I won and got my Rx for Augmentin, which thankfully has gone generic. Today, I needed medication for my skin lesion. Now that Lotrimin (clotrimazole) has gone OTC, I was able to pick up some topical cream for my ringworm infection without arguing with my doctor again about coming in for an exam.

Now, it's just a matter of twice daily medications and trying not to scratch!

What are the odds I would have two separate problems caused by cats on the same arm and in the same week? I'm sure they are astronomical.


retriever farm said...

Sometimes our job is no fun! Even though bites hurt and can be serious as far as infection I think I might take it over ringworm. Ringworm is sooo itchy and I hate having it, but I'm clear so far thank goodness! Remeber don't scratch.

dguzman said...

Ouch. I had ringworm once when I was a kid, but I didn't know it was caused by kittehs. Thanks for the info!

And I hope you heal up quickly.

Heron said...

Yipes, sorry to see you've been zapped by occupational hazards ! Given the clinical situation, wouldn't it also be appropriate to prescribe CHOCOLATE, prn ?

Susan Gets Native said...

I'm for the CHOCOLATE treatment plan.

Just imagine, dear readers, what a single cat claw can do to a bird?
I'm just sayin'.

Mary said...

Ouch. Poor Katdoc :o/ My own Cocker bit me good on the hand two days before she was euthanized - sad story - but I know bites HURT like hell. Ringworm - never had it but my daughter had a few cases. Clears easily with topical ointments.

Yes, you do face hazards. I always wonder how vets do it - tending to stressed out animals all day... My hat's off to you.


KGMom said...

Wow--your occupational hazards are no fun.
Augmentin is now generic--how about that. I remember when it was the latest anti-biotic. Of course, that was years ago.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Ooh, I double over in pain just thinking about taking augmentin. You must be concerned about some pretty bad bacteria. As one who coos and cheers about your coolest job in the world, I stand humbled. And we won't even talk about really old dogs with really old owners, which would be the toughest thing in the world for me to face. You are made of stronger stuff than I.