Animal bites involve multiple animal species, but the two you’re most likely to find yourself struggling with are bites from cats or dogs. Bites from these animals are a significant problem in the United States, with the majority of bites coming from cats, dogs and rodents.
While rabies is one potential complication of a dog, cat or rodent bite, it’s not the only thing people need to be concerned about. The wound itself could become infected with various bacteria, and other serious illnesses could result.
Bite wounds to the hands are significantly more dangerous than those to other body parts. Why? The hands have many small bones, joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles that can be destroyed with a single bite. They also harbor bacteria more easily in the smaller spaces.
After a bite, it’s likely that a victim will be tested for rabies. Since this is a fatal complication, early treatment is a requirement. It’s also normal for those behind on their tetanus vaccines to receive a tetanus shot to prevent this potentially deadly disease from developing.
If a person’s previous tetanus shot was five years ago or longer, it’s necessary to give the vaccination at the time of treatment. Others who may need an additional vaccine include children who have had fewer than three previous doses, those with a clean wound and who had their last tetanus vaccine 10 or more years ago and those with dirty wounds and a vaccine more than five years old. If the individual’s wound is contaminated with dirt or debris, tetanus immune globulin may be recommended to provide additional protection.
All these tests and medical needs should be covered by the responsible party who owns the animal. It is his or her responsibility to make sure you get the care you need.