Urgent Care for Animal Bites
Getting bitten by an animal can be scary experience, even if the damage caused by the bite doesn’t seem too serious at first.
You should always remember that many animals can carry the rabies virus and transmit it through the saliva. Plus, bites and scratches can get infected and lead to pain and complications. Because of this, even a small puncture wound can turn out to be very dangerous if not treated quickly and properly.
Note: We do not provide rabies shots here at Physicians Now Urgent Care center. So we advise that you go straight to the closest emergency room if you are bitten by any of the animals listed below.
By far, the biggest concern connected to dog bites is rabies. In fact, 98 percent of the rabies cases around the world are due to dog bites.
While rabies vaccination is mandatory in the US, this doesn’t mean all dog owners follow through. Plus, there’s always the possibility that you get bit by an unvaccinated stray dog.
If you can’t confirm that the dog that bit you has a current rabies vaccine, you will need to see a provider immediately to receive a human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG) shot. This must be given on the same day the bite occured to provide immediate antibodies After that, you will need to receive an additional five shots of rabies vaccine over a period of 28 days.
Dog bites can also lead to swelling, pain and infection. This is especially true if the dog bite causes injury to a nerve or muscle.
Bites on the hands can lead to serious problems, even if they look small, because of the many joints and tendons present in the area. In addition, there’s less blood circulation in the hands than in other areas of the body, which means healing is slower and more difficult.
Cat Scratches and Bites
Here’s something you might not know: cat bites are much more likely to get infected than dog bites. Why is that? Very simple: cats have tiny, sharp teeth that usually cause a deep puncture when they bite. This means the bacteria gets deeper into your body and can even get to the joint or the bones themselves.
In addition, puncture wounds are difficult to clean because of their depth — which means it’s even more important that you see a provider to help clean up the area properly.
Cat scratches can get infected just as well, or they can lead to cat scratch fever, a serious bacterial infection. Cat scratch fever can lead to swollen lymph nodes, fever, headaches and fatigue.
Getting bitten by a wild animal should always warrant a trip to the provider as soon as possible.
Immediately after the bite, wash the area thoroughly with water and soap and then bandage the area using a dry, clean cloth. If there’s a lot of bleeding or the skin is torn, apply pressure with a cloth and head to the emergency room immediately.
If you have been bitten or scratched by any of the following animals, your provider might recommend getting a series of rabies shots:
Small rodents, including squirrels, chipmunks, rats and mice are very unlikely carriers of the rabies virus. However, if you are bitten by any of these animals, you should still seek medical treatment to prevent infection and to make sure the wound is properly cleaned and bandaged and receive stitches if necessary.
Remember that a bite or scratch doesn’t have to be large to cause problems. Even a small puncture wound could be fatal if caused by a rabid animal or if the wound gets infected. People with suppressed immune systems should be especially careful when dealing with any type of animal bite or scratch and should seek medical attention immediately.