Simple procedures can prevent animal bites

  • Published
  • By Airman John Mills
  • 82nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron Public Health Flight
The number of rabies cases is small in the United States, but bites can be fatal if left untreated.

Rabies is a disease that attacks the brain and can lead to death. Some of the symptoms include insomnia, anxiety, slight or partial paralysis, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death will occur within days of the onset of symptoms if left untreated. There is, however, a better solution, which is avoiding rabid and wild animals.

Since children are the most commonly bitten people, parents should educate their children on the following safety issues:

As a general rule, do not approach, tease or provoke any stray animal. Even if the animal seems nice, do not pet it unless you ask the owner first.

In the event on an animal bite, do not try to catch the animal yourself, but safely attempt to collect as much information about the animal such as color, size, breed, markings, collar and who you think the owner might be. Report this information to the nearest animal control official and your medical provider.

If you or someone you know gets bitten or scratched, you should attempt to calm and reassure the bitten person. Wear latex gloves and wash your hands thoroughly before and after attending to the wound.

If the bite is not bleeding severely, wash the wound thoroughly with mild soap and running water for three to five minutes. Cover the bite with antibiotic ointment and a clean bandage and immediately seek medical care.

If the bite is actively bleeding, apply direct pressure with a clean, dry cloth, elevate the area until the bleeding subsides and immediately seek medical care.

Please contact your medical provider as soon as possible to schedule an appointment. If there are no appointments available, you may be directed by the Nurse Advice Line, 676-1847 to seek care at an urgent care center downtown. In any event, your provider will make sure that your risk of getting rabies or an infection is minimal.

For further information, please visit the CDC's Website.