Emergency Care for Urgent Situations: Animal Bites
While accidents, diseases, illnesses and other medical conditions are usually seen as the main risk to our health, there are other threats that lurk and may be closer than you think. We are talking about animals and animal bites in particular. It may be a bite or scratch or bite from a domesticated animal, from a stray one or from a wild animal, but one thing is for certain, all over the world, animal bites are a major health hazard to children and adults. Children are particularly at risk as they are usually very adventurous and are always likely to get bitten while playing. You may suffer a bite from your own pet or it may be from a wild animal, some of them being poisonous, when out and about. The major risk with animal bites, especially those that are not poisonous, is infection. This is why it is important that you seek medical attention as soon as possible when you suffer from a bite or scratch that breaks the skin by any animal whether it is domestic or not. When you suffer an animal bite, you will most likely be shaken and shocked and as such it may be difficult to know how to proceed. This article will look to help with that as it will look to highlight how you should go about things when you suffer an animal bite.
The first thing we are going to highlight is the scenarios of animal bites where you should always get medical attention. They include if your animal bite has broken through the skin as mentioned above, if it was from a wild or stray animal, if it was from a pet that is not up-to-date with its rabies shots or if it is from an animal that seems to be acting strangely. You should also seek medical attention for an animal bite that is on the face, hand, foot, head, and neck or near a joint due to the importance of these parts of the body when it comes to function and so that you can receive prompt treatment and ensure that their functionality is not affected by the injury. If you are behind on your tetanus shots or haven’t had one within the last 5 years, you should also seek medical attention for any animal bites as you should also if you notice signs of infection after a bite such as if the bite wound becomes tender, increases in pain, hot or you notice red streaks emanating from it. Now that we know the instances to get medical attention for animal bites, let us take a look at how to proceed when you suffer one.
First thing to do if you suffer an animal bite is to try and stem any bleeding that may be there. To do this, you should use a sterile gauze or a clean cloth to apply pressure directly on the bleeding wound until you notice bleeding has stopped. You should then look to gently clean the wound with warm water and soap and then rinse it severally afterwards. After cleaning, you should apply antibiotic cream or ointment on the wound so as to reduce any risk of infection that may be there. You should then cover the wound with a sterile gauze or bandage. After this is done, you should get medical help if your animal bite falls in any of the categories discussed above. If you were bitten by a wild or stray animal, you should also call animal control or your local health department as soon as possible.
There are instances where the animal bite you suffer may be severe and may need to call 911 as soon as possible. This includes cases where you have been seriously wounded by an animal, say you have been mangled or the bite is deep and exposes underlying tissue such as bone or tendons or if you are experiencing bleeding that can’t be stopped after 10 minutes of applying steady pressure or if the bleeding is severe and is coming out in squirts from the bite wound. In such a situation, you should call 911 as soon as possible and try to apply pressure on the wound if it is bleeding severely to minimize blood loss until emergency services arrive. If you have been bitten by a snake, or any other poisonous animal, you should call 911 as soon as possible too. You should then completely immobilize the affected body part and try to keep calm as you wait for emergency services to arrive. Don’t try to cut the wound to drain the poison or any tourniquet-like action, which is basically tying and applying pressure on the bitten part to limit blood flow. As opposed to popular belief, this will actually worsen the impact of the venom and should not be tried. If possible, you should take note of the snake that has bitten you so that you can give the information to the emergency services when they arrive to enable them to locate the anti-venom for you.
The above is how you should proceed if you get bitten by an animal and it is our hope that this article and the information therein will come in handy if you are ever in such a situation.