WPAFB Public Health Clinic stresses proper treatment of animal bites

The Wright-Patterson Medical Center’s Public Health Clinic has seen an increase in animal bites and would like to get the word out to teach people the proper care for these types of injuries.

The odds of a person becoming a victim of an animal bite are three in one, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Animal bites can lead to serious infection and even rabies if not properly treated. Immediate medical care should be sought if someone is bitten by an animal.

The main concern with a bite is infection. Bacteria from the mouth can enter the open skin and begin growing. Infections can cause pain, damage to tissue and can be life-threatening. Rabies is a rare, but potentially fatal, infection that may be contracted when bitten by an infected animal.

Millions of animal bites occur in the United States each year. Dog bites are the most common type of bite seen in the Wright-Patterson Medical Center emergency room, said Airman 1st Class Levi Noga, Public Health technician.

Other types of bites can come from animals such as cats, bats, squirrels, mole and rabbits. Bite wounds can range from minor to life-threatening.

“When bites go untreated, the skin heals over the bite, leaving the bacteria inside,” said Noga. “Proper treatment often can help to prevent and minimize the risk of infection.”

The type of animal bite and location bitten determines how seriousness the injury is. Additionally, objects stuck in the wound can contribute to infection.

Lack of a tetanus shot within the last five years significantly increases the risk of contracting tetanus.

Human bites also contain bacteria and carry a much higher risk of infection. These infections can advance quickly and result in serious medical problems; so early treatment is necessary.

If you are bitten by an animal, “try to identify the type of animal and the behavior it exhibits,” said Noga.

Treatment and follow-up care are always recommended in cases of bites to ensure that infection is controlled or has not developed.

For additional information on animal bites, contact the Wright-Patterson Medical Center Public Health Clinic at 937-257-0098.

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