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Animal bites

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Updated: 4/11/2007 5:47 pm
Animal bites can vary from minor to serious. However, none should be disregarded. Any wound or scratch should be cleaned thoroughly with soap and running water for at least five minutes, preferably with an anti-bacterial soap. Put a sterile bandage or clean cloth over the wound. Any wound that later becomes tender or inflamed, or appears to contain pus should be seen by a physician. Seek medical aid for a bite on the face, neck, or hands, or any deep wounds caused by an animal. These could develop into a serious infection, and might carry the risk of tetanus (TET-uh-nus). Another danger of animal bites is the possibility of contracting rabies, a disease that attacks the nervous system, and is usually deadly if not treated soon enough. Any mammal can catch rabies, but skunks, bats, foxes, and raccoons are especially susceptible. Dogs and cats can also carry the virus. If you're bitten by a wild animal, the animal should be captured if possible, so it may be checked for rabies. When a domestic pet is involved, try to get the owner's name, and find out if the animal has a current rabies vaccination. If the bite has torn any tissue loose, such as a part of the nose, ear, or finger, pack the tissue on ice, and take it with you to a hospital immediately. For more information on treating animal bites, consult a doctor.
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