Bites First Aid
The vast majority of animal bites are from domesticated animals
such as dogs and cats, and after that the wide assortment
of critters that can either be purchased at pet stores or
are found in the wild. Contacting rabies from a domesticated
dog or cat is extremely rare due to compliance with vaccinations
in the United States. However in other countries, it is much
more common. Individuals need to be aware of this if planning
to travel abroad.
bitten by an animal, if the skin has not been broken but only
bruising has occurred, there is no concern of rabies and very
little, if any concern, for wound infection. Please see first
aid treatment of bruises to treat these minor injuries.
is much more prevalent in wild animals such as raccoons, skunks
and foxes. It is strongly advised not to pick up or raise
any such animals. In fact, the occurrence of rabies in raccoons
is becoming a real concern. We are seeing a lot of rabid raccoons
along the Eastern seaboard including South Carolina, Florida
and even up into the New England states.
larger dogs and even cats, one has to be concerned about foreign
bodies left in the wound. It is not uncommon for teeth to
break off into a bite wound. It common practice for healthcare
providers to order x-rays after a dog or cat bite looking
for broken teeth.
is also important to note that approximately 20% of dog bites
get infected in comparison to about 80% of cat bites. Cats
have teeth which are akin to hypodermic needles. Puncture
wounds have a higher incidence of infection, especially given
the organisms found in a cat’s mouth.
Scratch is a totally different organism that can also cause
infection and problems.
for a moment how an animal’s diet can play an important
role in the rate of infection caused by an animal bite. For
example, a pet iguana that bites you has very little chance
of causing an infection as an iguana primarily eats vegetables.
However a non-venomous pet snake which eats small mice, such
as a corn or rat snake, can cause a very serious cellulitis/skin
infection due to the snake’s saliva—An important
consideration for a healthcare provider!
for Animal Bites
As with wounds and lacerations, it is very important to irrigate,
irrigate, irrigate. Wash the bite area with soap and water.
Bandage/pressure dressing to stop the bleeding. It the bite
area is in an extremity like a finger or hand, even the wrist
area, it is important to splint the area and rapid transport.
Again, if using topical antibiotics, be careful not to use
topical antibiotics that contain Neomycin. As previously stated
in Wounds and Lacerations, anywhere from 10-15% of the population
may have an allergic reaction to Neomycin. It is therefore
advisable to stay away from topical antibiotics containing