Animal Bites

Most animal bites come from domestic pets; however, animal bites from non-immunized domestic pets and wild animals might transmit the rabies virus.

Rabies is a viral disease often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal.

Rabies is more prevalent among wild animals such as bats, skunks, foxes and raccoons, and less commonly carried by dogs, cats, or rabbits.

First Aid for animal bites starts with evaluating the type of animal that initiated the bite, and the severity of the wound.

  • If you suspect the bite was caused by an animal that could potentially carry rabies, seek medical attention right away.  Getting an immediate vaccination can prevent rabies from developing once the virus has been transmitted.
  • For severe animal bite wounds that have torn into, or deeply punctured the skin, try to stop the bleeding with a clean, dry cloth, and seek medical attention.   You should also seek medical attention if the bite has punctured or torn the hand or fingers.
  • If the animal bite is mild, promptly wash the wound with a mild soap then rinse the area with water for 3 to 5 minutes. When finished, pat the area dry, apply an antibiotic ointment or cream, and cover the wound with a clean bandage.
  • Monitor the area surrounding the animal bite for signs of infection.  Seek medical help if you notice an increase in redness or swelling as well as any oozing around the site.

People who have contracted rabies from a bat bite before, were often unaware they had been bitten in the first place. That is largely due to the fact that bat bites are small, so they often go unnoticed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone who sees a bat inside their home or tent, or comes into direct contact with a bat in any way, promptly discusses the situation with a health care professional.

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