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How can an animal bite cause an emergency?

Dr. Elif E. Oker, MD
Medical Toxicology

Animal bites can cause an emergency if they result in significant trauma to the body and/or an infection.  The family pet, typically a dog or cat, is the most common animal bite reported in the U.S.  Early elementary school aged children are commonly victims. 

Depending on the type of animal involved bites can result in lacerations, puncture wounds, crush injuries and in some cases broken bones. Animal bites can also cause skin infections, abscesses and even sepsis. 

All animals contain a variety of bacteria in their mouths and saliva. These bacteria can be transmitted to humans. Key factors in determining the risk of infection are the type of animal, nature of the wound/injury, location of the bite and any immune system compromise in the victim. Bites to the hand are high risk for infection, even in healthy individuals.

Treatment of animal bites typically includes wound care and antibiotics. Occasionally hospitalization and surgery to clean or repair injuries is required. 

 

 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.