You may be bitten by:
Bites can happen when you are playing with a pet or trying to feed a wild animal. They may also happen even if you have not approached the animal.
Some animals, such as cats, have very sharp, pointy teeth that tend to cause puncture wounds. A puncture wound may not look like it is anything to worry about, but bacteria may have been pushed deep into the wound. Puncture wounds are hard to clean, so bacteria may be left in the wound. All bites can get infected, but these puncture wounds are more likely to get infected than some other kinds of animal bites.
Human bites happen more often than most people realize. Human bites are often more dangerous than animal bites because the human mouth has more bacteria in it than most animals' mouths. It is very easy for a human bite to become infected. However, any bite that breaks the skin can become infected and should be treated by your healthcare provider.
Bites may cause:
If the bite becomes infected, signs of infection include redness, pain, swelling, and pus. You may also have swollen glands or a fever and feel sick. These symptoms often mean a serious infection.
Your healthcare provider will look at the bitten area. Your provider will ask how the bite happened to see if you need more tests. For example, your provider will ask if you knew the animal and if the animal seemed to be acting normally. If the bite is deep and your bone could have been damaged or is at risk of getting infected, you may have X-rays. Bone infections can be very serious and hard to treat.
Some animals such as snakes or spiders inject venom into the skin, which can cause illness and even death. It can be helpful to your healthcare provider if you know what type of animal has bitten you.
Treatment depends on how you were bitten and how badly you are injured.
Follow these first aid measures for all bites that break the skin:
In all cases of animal bites, call your healthcare provider. Your provider may suggest that you:
In all cases of human bites, call your healthcare provider right away. Do not wait a day or two to see your provider. These bites become infected even more often than animal bites and can cause serious problems.
The time it takes for wounds to heal depends on the extent of the damage and your overall state of health. If the bite is infected, the infection will usually heal in 7 to 10 days with treatment.
A deep bite may cause scarring. It might damage nearby nerves.
Be aware of how animals act before they bite. For example, they may raise or flatten their ears, show their teeth, growl, or snarl. Do not approach or touch strange animals.
Use precautions to protect yourself from attack:
To help protect others from animal bites you can:
If you see an animal behaving strangely or foaming at the mouth or if an animal has bitten someone:
If you regularly handle animals that could have rabies, be sure to get shots of the rabies pre-exposure vaccine, which can help keep you from getting rabies if you get bitten.
Teach your children not to approach or touch strange animals.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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