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Animal Bite

Dog Bites

Scenario: Road bikers are prone to dog bites. (We mountain-trail heroes don't usually encounter poorly trained dogs.) Typically, the bite will be to the lower leg. But once Fido drags your kid off the bike, the bites are often to the face or arm.

Description:
Animal bites can cause serious infection. For example, deep cat bites (where the tooth penetrates into fat) become infected 90% of the time. Dogs often tear the skin, creating a laceration with rough ragged edges.

Typical biker's dogbite to the upper calf. The smaller teeth create crapes, while the canine has punctured through the full thickness.

bitedog2.jpg (11014 bytes)

Concerns:
Animal bites are at great risk of infection, particularly bites that can't be cleaned thoroughly from the outside. Infection can appear as early as 8 hours after the bite. All animal bites should be reported to your city's animal control officer. In some areas, household pets can come into contact with rabies-infected wild animals. If you're not sure about rabies risk in your area, contact your doctor or health department.
See the doctor if:
    rabies is present in your area
    the bite is from a cat
    the bite causes severe deep pain
    the bite is deep or has created a cut.

Immediate care:
Wash the wound with Betadine. Soak in warm water with salt or epsom salts for about 20 minutes. Elevate the area. Put on a padded dressing.

PAIGE (Patient Instruction Generator) is an easy-to-use yet powerful patient after-care instruction program. Link treatment plans, easily edit text, add new entries in a jiffy. Demos available. Click on the photo for information.

Ongoing care:
Change the dressing daily, checking carefully for infection. Keep the area elevated as much as possible. Apply warmth for 15 to 20 minutes about 4 times a day.

Watch for:
See the doctor if there is redness around the wound, red streaks, swelling, drainage, fever, tender bumps in the groin or armpit upsteam from the wound, or an unexplained increase in pain or tenderness. See section on infection.

Snake Bite

Scenario:
Looking up and down the trail, you decide this would be a good time visit mother nature's restroom. A few quick steps into the brush, you step on something vaguely squishy. Ouch! A little grayish-brown snake just bit you.

Description:
Utah's poisonous snakes are rattlesnakes. (But not all rattlesnakes will have a rattle.) The area of the bite becomes very painful. Blood often continues to ooze from one or two tiny fang-marks. Swelling and bluish discoloration develop. In many cases, the snake is never seen, but the bite can be suspected by the presence of an extremely painful sudden puncture, followed by spreading pain, oozing blood, and swelling.

Fortunately, many rattlesnake bites are "dry bites." The snake nips you as a warning, but doesn't inject venom. In these cases, pain at the bite site will be minor, and no swelling will develop.

Concerns:
Rattlesnake venom has a bunch of ugly enzymes that damage your blood cells, clotting proteins, and tissues. If a significant amount of venom has been injected, antivenom is needed.

Immediate care:
Just get back to civilization and into a hospital. Keep the bitten part down and quiet during transportation. (Most experts agree that cutting the bite is dangerous, that suction is worthless, and that ice is not helpful. There's even debate about whether a constricting band is helpful or harmful.)

 [First Aid Index Page]