Animal Bites And Rabies: Its Symptoms And Treatment Guidelines

Animal bites are common occurrence in our society. Many different types of animals can bite; it can be a pet or wild animal. Children as well as adults are vulnerable to animal bites. It is very difficult to know the exact numbers of animal bites in a particular place, because all animal bites are not reported to the authorities.

Most of the animal bites are either due to a dog or a cat. They account for a major bite wound injury in an emergency department. The other common species of animal known to bite humans are raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, snakes, ferrets, squirrel, hamster etc.

In coastal area marines animal bites are also common example (shark or eel).

Animal Bites Causing Rabies

A bite from an animal should not be neglected, as it may cause infection, tetanus or rabies. Rabies is a fatal disease. Infection occurs because the bacteria present in animal’s mouth contaminate the wound. These bacteria multiply in the wound giving rise to infection. Sometime the infection can become life threatening.

Infection from cat bite is more common. This is because; cats have extremely sharp teeth that can pierce deep inside your skin. The other most common worry amongst people bitten by an animal is to know whether they need rabies shot.

The main wild animals that carry rabies infection are raccoons, foxes, wolves, and bats. Pet dogs and cats that have been vaccinated rarely have rabies. However stray dogs and other animals may have rabies as their vaccination status is not known. Rabies is quiet rare, but is fatal if not treated when a rabid animal bites the person. The treatment consists of rabies vaccination.

Symptoms Of Animal Bites

Common symptoms of different types of animal bite are:

  • Pain at the site of bite
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling at the site of bite
  • Redness
  • Anxiety
  • Fear due to bite, persisting for sometime after the bite.

If the bite wound gets infected, the symptoms include:

  • Warmth around the area of infection.
  • Throbbing pain at the site of bite.
  • Pus draining from the site of wound.
  • Red streaks seen at the site of bite.
  • Swelling of the regional lymph nodes. If the bite is in the hand and if it is infected, lymph nodes in the armpit become swollen.
  • Fever
  • Weakness

Treatment Guidelines For Animal Bites

  • As soon as a person is bitten by an animal, the first thing he should do is take some soap water and scrub the wound thoroughly to remove the saliva and debris from the wound site.
  • If the bite wound is extremely bleeding and there is wide gaping, the skin and damaged tissue may need suturing to stop bleeding.
  • If a person has been bitten by the pet cat or a dog, find out whether it is vaccinated for rabies.
  • If a healthy pet has bitten, it should be confined and watched for ten days to see if it develops symptoms of rabies.
  • If you have been bitten by a wild animal it is necessary to take a shot of rabies vaccine. For this you will have to consult your doctor.
  • A tetanus shot should be taken soon after any animal bite.
  • If the wound is infected, culture of the pus will help to identify the organism. A proper antibiotic can be given once culture and sensitivity result is obtained.
  • Some serious bites may require the use of antibiotics intravenously, while some get healed with oral antibiotics.