Bites, Animal And Human

It is important to get immediate medical assistance in case you child is enduring any type of bite, which ruptures the skin. Irrespective of the fact whether the child has suffered the bite from the family pet, any wild or vagrant animal or even from his friend, you need to get him or her to visit a healthcare professional at the earliest.

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Sinking their teeth into almost anything and everything around becomes a very normal tendency among infants when they are introduced to solid foods at the tender age of five or six months. In fact, biting and chewing are among the very first conscious behaviors that a child learns - suckling being another instinctive response of children of this age. In the event of your baby passing through the teething phase, he gets some kind of relief from the pressure exerted by the emerging tooth by nibbling something.

On the other hand, kids and even older children may resort to biting to express their resentment or to attract attention. One infant or child biting another during play is also not uncommon. It may be noted that except for any child suffering from any acute temperamental problems, such manners are ought to disappear as they grow up. However, all said and done children should always be dissuaded from biting.

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Here are a few important things that you ought to known about bites from children. Generally, when children bite, it is not very deep or as powerful as the bites of adults. Moreover, bites of children do not usually become infected and neither harm the tissues beneath the skin.

You also ought to known that bites by humans as well as animals are likely to result in puncture injuries, scrapes, cuts or even mashing injuries. Generally, most of the bites by humans and animals result in insignificant injuries requiring merely a home treatment to heal. It has been found that most instances of animal bites happen to children of school-going age. And the most common parts of the body that are affected by such animal bites include their hands, legs, face and arms. As majority of the animal bites happen to children, it is your responsibility to instruct your children to be watchful with animals around and they also ought to be taught that these animals might possibly hurt them. When there are animals around, you should also keep a vigilant eye on young children.

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Types of bites

Bites caused by wild animals that are rabies-prone may often prove to be fatal. For instance, bites or scrapes caused by skunk, bat, raccoon, coyote, fox or even larger wild animals may especially prove to be precarious. While these animals may themselves not have any symptoms of rabies, their bites may transmit the disease. It may be noted that bats are known to have passed on rabies to people even with no noticeable marks of bite. People are likely to sustain animal bites while hiking, hunting or even camping. The potential risks from wild animal bites may include infection, rabies and tetanus. There are numerous types of animal bites and some of them are discussed here briefly.

Human bites: Usually, human bites occur during brawls, particularly among teenagers. Occasionally, people sustain a cut on their hand when it collides with a tooth. Compared to animal bites, human bites are more liable to develop infections. In effect, bite injuries on the hands have a greater risk of developing complications. However, in most cases, bites by infants are comparatively safer as they usually do not rupture the skin. On the other hand, bite injuries by adults may often prove to be severe or grave. When a clenched fist strikes another individual's mouth, especially the teeth, it may cause punctured wounds on the knuckles. In common terms, this is known as 'fight bite'. In such cases, the tissues underneath the skin may be harmed and even result in an infection of the hand.

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Small wild animal bites: Luckily, bites by small animals, including rodents - rats, mice, rabbits, prairie dogs, gophers, moles and chipmunks, are deemed to be free from rabies infection. While it is possible for squirrels to infrequently carry rabies, they are not known to have transmitted the disease to humans.

Large pet animal bites: Generally speaking, most pet bites are caused by dogs and cats. In most metropolitan areas, pet dogs and cats usually do not carry rabies. In fact, pet cats and dogs that are never free to roam at will outdoors are deemed to be free of rabies. However, the same cannot be said about the stray animals, which always pose a threat of transmitting rabies, unless proved to the contrary. It has been seen that the major risk from bite injuries caused by pet dogs and cats is not contacting rabies, but the possibility of developing infections. In fact, bites by cats are more likely to cause infections than bites by pet dogs. In addition, injuries caused by claws of cats are generally treated in the same manner as their bites are, as the cat's claws may be tainted with its saliva.

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It has been observed that dog bites are most widespread compared to bites by any other animal. In addition, it has also been noticed that most dog bites occur more often during the summer season. In the case of pet dogs, the animal is familiar to the victim and, therefore, in most cases dog bites are caused when the animals are bothered, provoked or tormented while they are eating or when they are asleep. Again, statistics show that compared to girls, boys suffer from dog bites almost twice more. When children are bitten by pet dogs, the most vulnerable areas are their arms, head and neck. It may be noted that bite injuries by cats usually have deeper punctures or skin ruptures compared to dog bites. Moreover, cat bites also pose a greater risk of developing a bacterial infection, as it is very difficult to effectively clean the bite.

Small indoor pet animal bites: Bites caused by small indoor pets, such as white mice, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and others, do not pose any risk for transmitting rabies. In fact, there is no need to even treat the tiny puncture injuries caused by the bites of these pet animals. Nevertheless, bite injuries caused by such animals always have the potential of developing infections.

Although rare, livestock like cows, sheep and horses, may also bite causing crushing injuries, since these animals have very strong jaws. Bites caused by such animals may possibly result in infection, rabies as well as tetanus.

What to do when you have a bite

There a number of measures that you need to undertake when you sustain a bite injury. First and foremost, you should make an effort to stop bleeding from the affected area. At the same time, you need to find out if any other tissues, for instance, blood vessels, tendons, nerves, ligaments, bones, joints or any other internal organs have been harmed. At the same time, evaluate the injury and make a decision regarding visiting a doctor for treating the bite wound.

Cleanse the wound caused by the bite to avoid any bacterial infection, viral infection or tetanus (also called 'lockjaw'). Ensure that you do not develop any viral infections like simplex virus and cytomegalovirus (CMV) or herpes. It is also important that you assess the injury and decide on whether you face the risk of rabies and whether to visit a doctor for treatment to avoid having the disease. Also decide whether you require taking a vaccination against tetanus.

Types of wounds

Bites by humans and animals may result in various different types of wounds - puncture wound, bruising, laceration or cuts and abrasion or scrapes. A brief account of each of these types of wounds is provided below:

Puncture wounds caused by animal or human bites need immediate medical attention as they are likely to be infected almost instantly as they damage the underlying tissues. Precisely speaking, puncture injuries cause by cats are more prone to developing infections. For cat bite injuries, most doctors would recommend preventive antibiotics. Apart from punctured wounds, laceration or cuts caused by bites are most severe and pose the risk of being infected almost immediately. Such injuries need to be detected and cleansed by means of flushing the bacteria from the injuries. This will help in avoiding an infection.

Dogs, cats and the risk of rabies

Although domestic or pet dogs and cats bites pose very little or no threat of developing rabies, this cannot be said to be true for stray animals. Below is a comparative study regarding developing the disease owing to dog and cat bites in various conditions, places or circumstances.

Metropolitan as opposed to rural locations: It may be noted that barring the towns bordering Mexico, dogs and cats in majority of the metropolitan areas of the United States and Canada do not carry rabies. However, the dogs and cats in the rural regions do pose a high risk of the disease being transmitted when they bite anyone.

Outdoor as compared to indoor pets: Dogs and cats in the United States and Canada that are not permitted ever to roam outdoors at their will are deemed to be safe from transmitting rabies. However, pets that are often outdoors or stray, have not been immunized and inhabit communities where rabies is common among pets, are believed to be at high risk of transmitting rabies through their bites.

Developing nations as opposed to the US and Canada: While the issue of rabies threat from dogs and cats in the United States and Canada has been discussed above, in the developing nations, these domesticated animals generally pose a high risk of transmitting rabies when they bite anyone. In such cases, people in the developing nations are recommended to take rabies post exposure prophylaxis when they are bitten by any dog or cat. International travelers are advised to be alert in this regard while visiting developing nations and it would be even better if they are vaccinated against rabies before visiting such places.

Provoked versus unprovoked bite: An attack or bite by any pet animal without any provocation generally reinforces the belief that the animal is infected or sick (rabid). It may be noted that if an individual is attacked and bit by his/ her healthy pet while they may be trying to feed or handle the animal, it is regarded as a provoked or incited bite.

Before concluding, it may be noted that it is important for physicians as well as nurses in every community to find out from their neighbourhood public health department (PHD) regarding the risks of rabies in their respective areas.

Supplements and herbs

See age-appropriate dosages of herbal remedies

A number of herbs are known to be effective in healing bites - either by humans or animals. For instance, a blended formula of the herbs goldenseal and Echinacea facilitates in detoxifying the blood and puts off any type of infection. For best results, you should give one dose of this combination herbal formula to your child thrice daily for around three to five days at a stretch. In addition, with a view to hasten the healing process as well as prevent the bitten area from developing any infection, you may also apply a compress prepared with calendula and goldenseal on the affected part thrice daily till the wound is completely healed.

Garlic is another herb that is reputed for its antibiotic attributes as well as its actions to detoxify the blood. You may give one capsule of any garlic supplement to your child thrice daily continuously for one week. Provided your child is able to tolerate it, you may also give him/ her fresh garlic cloves as a substitute for the capsule supplement. In this case, the normal dosage is one garlic clove given thrice every day for a week - in other words, one garlic clove instead of each garlic capsule.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy can be very useful in treating bites by animals. If you are making use of this novel method of curing bites, first you should meticulously clean the affected area, massage the area to dry the wound and then apply quite a few drops of tea tree oil at least thrice daily for some days continuously. As the wound dries up, you may keep on applying tea tree oil once every day till the wound is completely healed.

Additional things you may do

In addition to the modern remedial actions, using herbs and supplements and aromatherapy, you may also adopt other measures to treat bites by humans and animals, which are considered to be very ordinary types of wounds. In majority of instances, the injury caused by an animal bite is trivial and it is possible to heal it using the simple fast aid methods. You may follow the steps mentioned below:

When you or any one in your family sustains an animal bite, without delay, clean the injury by placing the affected part under warm water for about 10 minutes. Unless there is hemorrhage from the injury, make an effort to stimulate the wound to bleed by squeezing the place gently. Additionally, you may also use analgesic medications, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to facilitate easing the pain as well as inflammation caused by the bite.

Home remedies for dog bites

If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, whether a family pet or a stray animal, without any delay, wash the affected area using soap and warm water carefully for over 5 minutes. Moreover, in order to get rid of the saliva of the animal from the affected area, clean the dog bite with cold water and put gauze on the wound. In addition, you ought to take some more actions, including taking vitamin C to fight infection, if it occurs, and also take vitamin B, which helps in producing antibodies.

In case the wound caused by the dog bite is large enough, it is essential that you visit a doctor or a competent healthcare professional, as the wound might require stitching. In addition, you may take an herbal tea prepared with the herb Echinacea. Taking a tea prepared with goldenseal on the very first day of the dog bite may prove to be very effective in healing the wound. However, women who are pregnant should avoid using this herb. Alternately, goldenseal may also be applied topically on the bite area since it is useful as a natural antibiotic.

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