Animals typically strike at the face, arms, hands and legs. If you are a runner, you may even sustain a bite to the buttocks! Young children should always be supervised when close to animals and unsupervised animals should always be on a leash, but inevitably accidents occur.
- Puncture wounds (more likely from cat or dog bites)
- Cuts and scrapes (usually from exotic pets, rats, mice or birds)
- Crushing of the bones (from livestock or animals with powerful jaws)
Who is at risk?
School-aged children are the most common victims of animal bites. Children are curious and more likely to disturb an animal who is eating or otherwise distracted. Excited or older animals are less patient with these interruptions and more likely to lash out. Serious crushing injuries are more likely with someone who handles livestock on a regular basis, but children should always be supervised in barnyards and petting zoos. Young children are often the recipients of human bites as well, usually from playmates or siblings! There is also the “fight bite” which happens a clenched fist strikes another person in the mouth. The fight bite is a particular bite injury which has a high rate of infection and needs immediate attention.
Your physician will want to examine a deep bite for any possible risk of infection or damage to internal organs or tissue. Bites from children are typically not as deep as adult bites, but both are susceptible to infection and will need to be cleaned and treated as you would for an infectious risk. Animal bites will need to be evaluated for infection, for rabies potential and on occasion, for a foreign body left in the bitten limb. Cat teeth will sometimes break off inside the skin and will need to be removed. Of course, we will also want to ensure that your tetanus vaccination status is up to date. The recommendation is every 5 years with a dirty wound such as an animal or human bite.
Emergency Warning Signs: When should I see a doctor?
Naturally, if a bite results in complete or partial amputation of a body part, call 911 immediately. Get immediate medical attention if you note any signs of shock in the patient: dizziness, passing out, acting confused, unavoidable sleepiness, labored breathing, unresponsiveness or a low heart rate. Have the person lie down as you wait; if the person needs to vomit, roll him to one side. Keep pressure on any bleeding until emergency personnel arrive. In general, if severe bleeding doesn’t stop after 15 minutes of continuous pressure, seek emergency medical assistance. If a bite occurs near the eye, seek emergency medical assistance.
Bite treatment is available now at Omni-Med in Florham Park, NJ.
For more information on Animal and Human Bites, see the following websites:
Bad Bugs Slideshow from eMedicineHealth
Right Health Human Bite Guide
Medline Plus (NIH) Guide to Animal Bites
Disclaimer: The links above are to sites independent of omnimedmd.com. The pages will open in a new browser window. The information provided is for educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your doctor. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding your specific medical questions, treatments, therapies, and other needs.