Animal bites are one of the most reported causalities with adults and children. In addition to the emergency measures to stop bleeding in the event of an animal bite, physicians need to look for potential pathogens such as bacteria or virus that can cause further damage to the patient.
Dog and cat bite
It is one of the common forms of animal bites. A dog that attacks or bites has pre-existing tendency of abnormal temperament, which triggers its proactive nature to bite an individual. However, dogs, which are kept as pets that have been vaccinated, are not dangerous when they leave minor scratches with their teeth. Dogs, which are affected by rabies, are more dangerous and can be lethal. An attack by a rabid dog can be traumatizing leading to many physiological and psychological conditions. Immunoglobulin and anti-rabies vaccines are given immediately to the victim to prevent the multiplication of the rabies virus. If ignored, rabies virus can be fatal causing adverse complications such as hydrophobia and sometimes death. Similar approach is taken with respect to cats. In case of cat scratch, immunoglobulin along with antimicrobial such as tetracycline are used to prevent associated bacterial infections caused by Pasteurella and Bartonella species.
Rodent bites are rare but are equivalently dangerous as they are potential carriers of rabies virus along with bacterial species such as Leptospira and streptobacillus SP. In the event of a rodent bite, immediate medical attention is required. The proximity of the bite region to the brain is very significant as it is associated with the rapid propagation the virus.
The most common form of reptile bites is snakebites. These bites are fatal and require immediate medical attention. Snake bites are widely studied and depending upon the type of snake and the potential venom it produces, the anti-venom is administered. Some snakes such as the black mamba and Cobra seen in Africa and Asia produce venom that is neurotoxic. Other snakes such as vipers, rattle snakes and kraits produce venom that is toxic to the circulatory system. Anti-venom administration is followed by patient observation for a period of 24 hours is essential to ensure positive prophylaxis.
In addition, other animals such as raccoons, coyotes, foxes, skunks which fall under the wild mammal categories are also treated with anti-rabies vaccines and tetanus shots.
Management of animal bites
Animal bites have to be effectively analyzed in order to manage them well. The history and the demography of the animal are recorded along with appearance and behavior traits. Evidence-based conclusions are drawn to confirm that the animal especially if it's a mammal is rabid. All wounds have to be cleaned thoroughly to prevent cross infection and sepsis. All puncture wounds ranging from mild to severe have to be treated with respective vaccines and antimicrobial drugs. The most common drugs used are Augmentin, tetracycline, clindamycin and in some cases cefuroxime and metronidazole. This prevents the onset of tissue necrosis by the bacteria. Azithromycin is recommended in case of cat scratch as it prevents the growth of Bartonella.
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Bibliography / Reference
Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: December 3, 2023