When To Seek Medical Attention After An Animal Bite

Anyone can get an animal bite, and it can affect you in various ways, depending on the type of animal, its health status, and the severity of the bite. Bites from wild or stray animals can transmit dangerous infectious diseases, resulting in severe symptoms, including fever, headache, and even death. While some bites usually get better with wound cleaning and over-the counter-medications, some require emergency care, especially if the animal has venom. Additionally, Spring animal bites can cause physical injuries, leading to pain, bleeding, swelling, and infection.

Symptoms associated with animal bites

Animal bites can result in various symptoms depending on the type of animal, the severity of your wound, and the location of the bite on your body. You may experience sharp or dull pain, swelling, redness, and bleeding. In addition, there may be puncture wounds visible on your skin. Some bites may also cause fever or flu-like symptoms, which can indicate an infection. In severe cases, you may experience numbness, tingling, or paralysis, particularly for venomous animals such as snakes or spiders. If you experience these symptoms after an animal bite, inform your provider for immediate medical attention.

How doctors diagnose animal bites

During your appointment, your doctor will physically examine the affected area. The exam may involve assessing the severity of your wound, checking for signs of infection, and evaluating any other symptoms you may be experiencing. The team may also ask about the circumstances surrounding the bite, such as the type of animal involved and whether the animal was known to be infected with any diseases. Depending on the severity of the bite, they may also order additional tests like X-rays or CT scans to help diagnose any underlying conditions or complications. In cases where the animal involved is known to carry a disease such as rabies, they may also perform tests to check for the presence of the virus.

Available treatments for animal bites

Your treatment will depend on the severity, the location of the bite, and the type of animal involved. Suppose the bite is minor, such as a scratch or superficial puncture wound. In that case, your provider may suggest basic wound care techniques such as cleaning the affected area with soap and water, applying antibiotic ointment, and covering it with a sterile bandage. However, professional care may be necessary if the bite involves a deep puncture wound. In such cases, the team will clean and debride the wound and close it with stitches. In addition, your doctor may give you a tetanus shot if you have not received one for more than five years.

Complications associated with animal bites

Animal bites can lead to several complications, including infection, when bacteria from the animal’s mouth or skin enter your body through the bite wound. The infections can lead to fever, pain, redness, and swelling, and sometimes they can become severe and even life-threatening, especially if the bite is from a dog or cat. An animal bite can also expose you to certain diseases, such as rabies, a viral infection that affects the central nervous system, resulting in headaches, weakness, and paralysis. If left untreated, rabies can be fatal.

Call the Houston Medical ER for emergency care if you get an animal bite.