Bites and Stings: Animals

Bites and Stings: Animals

All animal bites require treatment based on the type and severity of the wound. Whether the bite is from a family pet or an animal in the wild, scratches and bites can become infected and cause scarring. Animals can also carry diseases that can be transmitted through a bite. Bites that break the skin and bites of the scalp, face, hand, wrist, or foot are more likely to become infected. Cat scratches, even from a kitten, can carry "cat scratch disease," a bacterial infection.

Other animals can transmit rabies and tetanus. Rodents such as mice, rats, squirrels, chipmunks, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, and rabbits are at low risk of carrying rabies.

The most common type of animal bite is a dog bite. Up to 3 million people receive animal bites each year, and most bites are dog bites. Follow these guidelines to help decrease the chance of your child being bitten by an animal:

How to respond to dog or cat bites and scratches

When your child is bitten or scratched by an animal, remain calm and reassure your child that you can help. Specific treatment for an animal bite will be determined by your child's physician. Treatment may include:

Call your child's physician or healthare provider for any flu-like signs such as fever, headache, malaise, decreased appetite, or swollen glands following an animal bite.

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