There are on average between 3-6 million animal bites in the US leading to an estimated 800,000 people needing medical attention annually.  Both domestic and wild animals are responsible for these bites. Dog bites are generally most common and most severe. Cat bites most likely to become infected. Wild and stray animals are most concerning for rabies. Small rodents like squirrels, hamsters, guinea pigs, chipmunks, rats, mice and rabbits aren’t usually concerning for rabies; however, bites and scratches from these animals may become infected. Prevention is key. Everyone should be aware of animals around them. Animals that are acting strangely, are more shy or more aggressive than normal, are excessively drooling, are partially paralyzed, wild animals acting “tame” and nocturnal animals that are out in daylight should be considered dangerous. These animals need to be avoided and reported to authorities. Always keep a close eye on children around any animals, even pets. Teach children to never tease an animal, always handle animals gently, and to stay away from wild or stray animals. Children should be taught to ask animal owners before attempting to pet an unfamiliar animal. If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, first apply pressure to stop active bleeding, cleanse the wound as quickly as you can with warm water and soap, apply antibiotic ointment if available and apply a bandage. Check the wound frequently for signs of infection including increased pain, wound drainage, swelling, increasing redness or streaking, increased temperature, or tingling/numbness of the affected area. Most bites on the face, head, neck, hands, feet, or near a joint should be evaluated by a medical provider.  The CDC website has a lot of helpful information too. We are always available at FAMC to evaluate and treat animal bites. 

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