Military working dog training to attack by biting
|Classification and external resources|
An animal bite is a wound received from the teeth of an animal, including humans. Animals may bite in self-defence, in an attempt to prey on food, and as part of normal interactions. Other bite attacks may be apparently unprovoked. Self-inflicted bites occur in some genetic illnesses, such as Lesch-Nyhan syndrome. Biting is an act that occurs when an animal uses its teeth to pierce another object, including food, flesh, and inanimate matter. A person bitten by an animal potentially carrying parvovirus or rabies virus should consult a physician immediately. Those who have been bitten by an animal may also develop bacterial infections of the bone called osteomyelitis which can become life-threatening if untreated, whether or not the animal has parvovirus or rabies virus.
Signs and symptoms
Bite wounds can cause a number of signs and symptoms
- Generalized tissue damage due to tearing and scratching
- Serious hemorrhage if major blood vessels are pierced
- Infection by bacteria or other pathogens, including rabies
- Introduction of venom into the wound by venomous animals such as some snakes
- Introduction of other irritants into the wound, causing inflammation and itching
Bites are usually classified by the type of creature causing the wound. Many different creatures are known to bite humans.
- Dog bites are commonplace, with children the most commonly bitten and the face the most common target. About 4.7 million dog bites are reported annually in the United States.
- Other companion animals, including cats, ferrets, and parrots, may bite humans.
- Wildlife may sometimes bite humans. The bites of various mammals such as bats, skunks, wolves, raccoons, etc. may transmit rabies, which is almost always fatal if left untreated.
Involuntary biting injuries due to closed-fist injuries from fists striking teeth (referred to as reverse bite injuries) are a common consequence of fist fights. These have been termed "fight bites". Injuries in which the knuckle joints or tendons of the hand are bitten into tend to be the most serious.
Teething infants are known to bite objects to relieve pressure on their growing teeth, and may inadvertently bite people's hands or arms while doing so. Young children may also bite people out of anger or misbehaviour, although this is usually corrected early in the child's life.
In spite of their name, love bites are not biting injuries (they involve bruising from sucking, and the skin is not broken), although actual biting injuries are sometimes seen as the result of fetishistic activities.
- Spider bite
- Insect bites and stings
- Leech bite
Antibiotics to prevent infection are recommended for dog and cat bites of the hand, and human bites if they are more than superficial. They are also recommended in those who have poor immune function. Evidence for antibiotics to prevent infection in bites in other areas is not clear.
The first choice is amoxicillin with clavulanic acid, and if the person is penicillin-allergic, doxycycline and metronidazole. The antistaphylococcal penicillins (e.g., cloxacillin, nafcillin, flucloxacillin) and the macrolides (e.g., erythromycin, clarithromycin) are not used for empirical therapy, because they do not cover Pasteurella species.
Animal bites, most commonly dogs and bats, transmit rabies to humans. Rabies from other animals is rare. If the animal is caught alive or dead with its head preserved, the head can be analyzed to detect the disease. Signs of rabies include foaming at the mouth, self-mutilation, growling, jerky behavior, and red eyes.
If the animal cannot be captured, preventative rabies treatment is recommended in many places. Certain places, such as Hawaii, Australia, and the United Kingdom, are known not to have native rabies. Treatment is generally available in North America and the Northern European states.
Tetanus toxoid is recommended in those whose vaccinations are not up to date and have a bite that punctures the skin. Tetanus immune globulin is indicated in people with more than 10 years since prior vaccination. Tetanus boosters (Td) should be given every ten years.
|Prior toxoid||Clean minor wounds||All other wounds|
|< 3 doses||TT: yes, TIG: no||TT: yes, TIG: yes|
|≥ 3 doses||TT: if last dose ≥ 10yr
|TT: if last dose ≥ 5yr, TIG: no|
TT = tetanus toxoid; TIG: tetanus immune globulin
- Kenneth M. Phillips (2009-12-27). "Dog Bite Statistics". Retrieved 2010-08-06.
- Questions and Answers about Dog Bites[dead link]
- "Animal bites Fact sheet N°373". World Health Organization. February 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
- "BestBets: Antibiotics in cat bites".
- Oehler RL, Velez AP, Mizrachi M, Lamarche J, Gompf S (2009). "Bite-related and septic syndrome caused by cats and dogs". Lancet Infect Dis 9 (7): 439–47. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(09)70110-0. PMID 19555903.
- Medeiros I, Saconato H (2001). Medeiros, Iara Marques, ed. "Antibiotic prophylaxis for mammalian bites". Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2): CD001738. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001738. PMID 11406003.
- "Rabies Fact Sheet N°99". World Health Organization. Sep 2014. Retrieved Jan 2015.
- "BestBets: Oral antihistamines for insect bites".
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