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Thread: "bear hands" err..something.

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    Member ninefoot's Avatar
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    Default "bear hands" err..something.

    this past season i got a fairly severe staff infection in a superficial cut from skinning a brown bear that had been into the dead fish pretty bad...claws, mouth, anus, fur, where covered in the gray version of dead salmon...it was a float hunt, the rivers where abnormally high, and the bears where cleaning up the old dog salmon in the middle of the sockeye run...he was nasty. i wanna know if i got it from the bear, or the fish. anyone got ideas? it started small, grew visibly daily and it got to the point i was circleing the infection with a sharpie to see how far it spread every day...amoxicyllan (or however you spell that) killed it in the end, but the infection was visibly running in red streaks up my arm...my boss and others i've heard have had similiar infections with skinning caribou and having cuts on there hands, and i've always heard the rumors of "bear hands" just wondering if anyone has done research, or has any better info on the cause. i'm kinda thinking it was more from the fish...hard to imagine if bears where the culprit why the zillion other cuts i've had while skinning bears havent been infected...but then i'm no doctor. i know it was scarry watching the infection creep closer to the top of my arm, though it never broke past my forearm, it was still enough to get a guy to wondering...my boss was pretty quick in getting me some antibiotics, and was pretty concerned as he had an even more severe case with a caribou a few years back...like he almost didnt make it to the hospital in time close. i'd always heard that staff can kill you if it breaks your shoulder and gets into the bloodstream and into your heart...ideas anyone?

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    Member Kotton's Avatar
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    This is not "bear hand" but I once caught a spawned out king and while I was keeping it in the water takeing the hook out of his jaw,It bit my thumb up pretty good.About a week later i got some sort of infection,never went to the doctor but had to poke with a needle a few times to drain the puss out.My whole hand turned red and was swollen but after a few drains and soaking my hand in alcohol it finally went away.I have heard of pepole get what you got but never seen it,sounds awfull.Hope you are rid of it.

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    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    Hard saying exactly what microrganism really caused your infection without a culture. If could be several. What ever it was you were indeed in danger.

    I like to use thick paramedic style gloves for processing game.

    I've gotten such an infection before from a fish tooth cut. There is something about river fish expecially that causes it. I've seen it with patients too.


    Maybe Muskeg will break out his classic bear hand photo.

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    I believe what you described is an infection known as "seal finger." There have been a few members that have got it over the years from cuts while skinning bears. As mentioned member Muskeg had it.

    http://www.epi.alaska.gov/bulletins/docs/b1983_17.htm


    Here is a link to a thread about it with the photo of Muskegs hand.

    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ht=#post771387

    Steve
    Last edited by stid2677; 03-03-2011 at 21:31.
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    Stids quite right;
    Caribou Finger, Seal finger, Fish finger, a cut with crap in it by many names.. yep, getting blood or slime in a cut is a BIG Freekin NO NO!!!

    Lost a thumb nail for awhile cause of such, stupid young me, "Oh well, I knicked my thumb, I'll just finish".....and it nearly finished me.
    The wife was raised to ademently avoid such, and tradional cutting/butchering of animals go's along that line.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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    I laughed at seeing my Dad pull out his latex gloves on our last hunt together. Back at camp that night he told me some stories around the campfire that would make your skin crawl..... I now carry several pairs of surgical latex gloves in my pack for gutting... They weigh next to nothing and can save you from allot of discomfort or your life in an extreme case... Thanks Dad...

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    Member ninefoot's Avatar
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    yeah i'll definitely say it'll teach you to wear gloves...i've got about twenty pairs of the thicker latex gloves in a ziploc in my pack at all times now...and yeah thats kinda what i figured stranger, horse, kotton, stid...its just whatever bacteria that gets in a cut...not specific to certain animals, right?

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    I harvested a brown bear on kodiak on nov 8, 2007 I cut my finger while fleshing on the 9th. no problem I thought went back to the states. noticed a small infection in my hand on nov 18. finally went to doctor on nov 25 gave me antibiotics. 1 week later no change maybe alittle worse. try another antibiotic, another week nothing, infection getting worse in my knuckle on left ring finger. go to specialist on dec 16, says I need hand surgery to remove infection in hand. have surgery on dec 22. remove infection & send to lab. comes back as a bacterial infection they believe came from my bear on kodiak. so YES it is real. be careful
    TODD
    Quality Taxidermy is not expensive it is PRICELESS

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Having seen this come up on the forum over the years I started wearing the lightweight gloves dipped in latex, they have saved me from numerous cuts and nicks. If I cut myself, I STOP and bleed the cut out real good and wash my hands. Then I wear a pair of latex exam gloves under my skinning gloves to finish. After seeing what can happen I BELIEVE it can happen to me.



    Steve
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    Member ninefoot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10PTBUCK View Post
    I harvested a brown bear on kodiak on nov 8, 2007 I cut my finger while fleshing on the 9th. no problem I thought went back to the states. noticed a small infection in my hand on nov 18. finally went to doctor on nov 25 gave me antibiotics. 1 week later no change maybe alittle worse. try another antibiotic, another week nothing, infection getting worse in my knuckle on left ring finger. go to specialist on dec 16, says I need hand surgery to remove infection in hand. have surgery on dec 22. remove infection & send to lab. comes back as a bacterial infection they believe came from my bear on kodiak. so YES it is real. be careful
    TODD
    well....i know its real...it happened to me. was wondering more if it was animal specific...but thanx for sharing your experience...mine was more imediate and spread QUICKLY...as in my finger was twice the size and the infection was noticeably running up my arm...not just in the joint.

    also interesting to note that after the anits killed the infection my finger remained off colored until the surface skin sluffed off like sunburn peeling...it was kinda wierd. never saw that on other infections or cut injuries.

    something for bighorse...i'm taking it your a doc, thats good to know i treated the cut with topical antibiotic (neosporin or some smililar ointment) as soon as it started getting red...as in before it started swelling at all...why didnt it kill it then, when the cut was so superficial...and guys, i'm talking tiny. it was a tiny cut...like really really little (centimeter or so, and barely bled at all, just a knick really) how in the world did it get into my bloodstream that quickly (within four days i was crying uncle and calling the boss to drop me some antibiotics...)

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    I wear a filetting glove on my left hand(I'm right handed) now. My BIL got blood poisoning from a tiny cut, while working on a ram several years ago. Dark line almost to the shoulder by the time he was on anti-biotic.

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    Member tyrex13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ninefoot View Post
    this past season i got a fairly severe staff infection in a superficial cut from skinning a brown bear that had been into the dead fish pretty bad...claws, mouth, anus, fur, where covered in the gray version of dead salmon...it was a float hunt, the rivers where abnormally high, and the bears where cleaning up the old dog salmon in the middle of the sockeye run...he was nasty. i wanna know if i got it from the bear, or the fish. anyone got ideas? it started small, grew visibly daily and it got to the point i was circleing the infection with a sharpie to see how far it spread every day...amoxicyllan (or however you spell that) killed it in the end, but the infection was visibly running in red streaks up my arm...my boss and others i've heard have had similiar infections with skinning caribou and having cuts on there hands, and i've always heard the rumors of "bear hands" just wondering if anyone has done research, or has any better info on the cause. i'm kinda thinking it was more from the fish...hard to imagine if bears where the culprit why the zillion other cuts i've had while skinning bears havent been infected...but then i'm no doctor. i know it was scarry watching the infection creep closer to the top of my arm, though it never broke past my forearm, it was still enough to get a guy to wondering...my boss was pretty quick in getting me some antibiotics, and was pretty concerned as he had an even more severe case with a caribou a few years back...like he almost didnt make it to the hospital in time close. i'd always heard that staff can kill you if it breaks your shoulder and gets into the bloodstream and into your heart...ideas anyone?
    gloves????

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    Member ninefoot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tyrex13 View Post
    gloves????
    yeah yeah yeah, i got that part.

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    Stid,
    By dipped do you mean the cheap level 2 cut resitant gloves? I have purchased a couple pair over the years & will try & wear the left one when filleting a lot of fish, as after a while it can get easy to nick the fingers. Tried to use them skinning a moose last fall but I think I could grip the hide better with out it on. Will wear the left glove when boning & cutting the meat at the house for though & it has saved a nick or two over time.

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Yes Sir, the cheap dipped ones. They are not cut proof by no means, but for me most cuts are just nicks and just that little bit of gloves saves me. I cut the gloves but can feel the pressure and stop before I cut myself.

    Steve
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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    Member scott_rn's Avatar
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    I did a little 1 a.m. googling and there are a lot of microbes on bears. Here is the article (abstract) I found most helpful. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3447691

    From the abstract:
    Bacterial genera most frequently isolated from bears were Escherichia, Citrobacter, Hafnia, Proteus, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus species, comprising about 65% of the isolates.Erwinia, Xanthomonas, Agrobacterium, Rhizobium, and Gluconobacter/Acetobacter were also isolated but at lower frequencies (less than 5%). Comparison of bacterial generic composition using similarity quotient values showed no appreciable differences between grizzly and black bear flora.

    These were northwest alberta bears. Not sure what the gray stuff on fish is caused by, I'll see if google turns anything up.

    By the way, Amoxicillin is pretty broad. It's used to treat a lot of bugs including h. pylori (bacterial cause of stomach ulcers), chlamydia, and staphylococcus.

  17. #17

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    I know bears carry all kinds of creepy crawlys, but couldn't it have been fish poisoning? I spent a lot of time processing fish when I was younger and there was always a couple of people from down south that came up to work that would get fish poisoning. Some of the sever cases sound like what you had, rapid infection and striations leading up their arm and bad swelling.

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    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    How does one little single celled sperm join with a cute little female egg to form such a Bighorse? My friend, in the world of bactria and virus your dealing with insidious little devils that can multiply voraciously with the most minute of opportunity. Think about some of the comments in the Girardia thread. Same deal...single larvea ingested, big problem down the line.

    Think cancer treatment, remove tumor, treat systemically with chemo. Once you get a small agressive "thing" in your body either your immune system is equipped to handle it or not. If not your gonna need external support.

    I say all this stuff not as a substitute for visiting a doctor. I'm not a doctor. I do body imaging, CT, MRI, X-ray. So take what I say for what you paid for it. Internet banter. Be safe and clean. I always consider myself at fault should I get cut. There is no excuse for it IMHO. A man should know how to handle his knife and gun.

    How does my little .25 caliber rifle kill bears? The world may never know. Grin!

  19. #19
    Member AK-HUNT's Avatar
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    Ninefoot,
    I grew up down the lane from the fur-buyer. So from the time I was bigger than a raccoon, I worked there skinning them (and beavers, mink, etc). I saw the exact thing you described in one of the other guys that worked there one winter. The fast advance daily (as you described) was the impressive part. Kinda "ran" up his hand. Point being, you described to a "T" what my bud had and it was from the fat of a raccoon (doc thought). We skinned hundreds a year, for years, and once we got a bad one.

    Glad to hear you beat it. Sore joints? My bud claimed his joints in that hand were stiff way after.

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    Default Glove choices

    If you have any open cuts or cracks, chemical resistant gloves or medical style gloves work well. Latex seems to me to be a bit more form fitting, but some might like or need Nitrile due to allergies.
    As for the dipped gloves, the cheaper ones are latex (often blue). The latex gets slick w/ body fluids or petroleum products. You might try the nitrile (all of mine are black) dipped gloves as they allow you to hang on better than the latex. I get the nitrile dipped for our mechanics working in oil.
    Not all dipped gloves like Stid was talking about are cut resistant rated, even though they do give some protection. If you are going to wear a glove to protect your hands, then you might as well get a Cut Level 5 glove that is nitrile dipped. Ansell and North Safety both make gloves, but just about all of them that you find at a Safety Supply outlet will be good.
    I've never used the chain mail glove for large animals, only fish. That might work too. And it would be easy to wash and rinse.
    For cold weather you can use a poly liner, or maybe even something a bit thicker, and get the chemical resistant gloves a couple of sizes larger to go over them. They do make the Latex dipped gloves in an insulated model, but I have yet to use/see a Nitrile dipped insulated glove. I'm sure they have them. Not sure I'd like them on skinning work due to the bulk.
    ARR

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