Each year, millions of people across the world were bitten by dogs, including pets, wild animals and insects. The seriousness of an animal dog bite and other animal bite depends on the extent and area of tissue damage, the amount of blood lost and the presence of infection (tetanus, in some cases) and rabies.
Snakebite is categorized as a wound resulting from penetration or a bite on the victim’s body by the fangs of a venomous snake, especially a snake secreting venom through or near the fangs. A bite by a non-venomous snake is treated as a puncture wound. A bite by a venomous snake may be serious, depending on the victim’s size, the bite’s location, the amount of injected venom and the speed of its absorption.
Bites from poisonous snakes are rarely fatal when medical assistance and correct anti-venoms are provided quickly. If a snake bites you, try to kill it without deforming its head and bring it with you when you seek medical attention. If you are unable to kill the snake, remember what it looked like.
The reaction to most bug bites is confined to the area around the bite itself. But some insect bites can be very dangerous, even fatal. They also become life-threatening when reaction to the bite courses through the body within minutes of the sting. Reactions include dizziness, nausea, breathing difficulty, rapid or irregular heartbeat, confusion, swelling or redness of the body and swelling of tongue, lips or face. A person who shows any of these symptoms after an insect bite should be brought to a hospital or healthcare provider.
Seek medical help for multiple stings from bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets or fire ants and if you experience vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fever, muscle spasms or light-headedness. If a tick or a spider such as a brown house spider or black widow spider bites you, call your doctor.
Signs and Symptoms
For Animal Bites:
- Puncture wound or laceration
- Pain, which can be severe, or numbness
- For snakebites:
- Single (the snake may have broken one of its fangs) or double puncture wounds from the snake’s fangs
- Immediate pain
- Burning, redness, swelling
- Nausea & vomiting
- Increased salivation
For Insect Bites:
- Throbbing pain that does not subside within 48 hours
- Burning, redness
- Unusual rash
- Signs of infection or fever of over 38.3°C
- Nausea, vomiting, loss of bowel and bladder control
- Dizziness or fainting, shortness of breath, swollen throat, difficulty swallowing
- Hives or swelling all over body
- Itchiness usually localized to the affected area.
For Animal Bites:
- Severe bleeding, if a main blood vessel is torn
- Infection of the wound, causing fever, inflammation, worsening pain, pus
- Tetanus, a disease of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) due to infection of a wound by tetanus bacteria
- Rabies, an acute viral infection transmitted to humans by the bite of a rabid animal
- Death due to rabies or tetanus
- Shock (pallor, rapid breathing, cold sweat, clammy skin, drowsiness, fast pulse rate, loss of consciousness)
- Severe poisoning
- For insect bites:
- Allergic reaction
- Reaction to venom
- Toxic reaction
What you can do
For Animal Bites:
- Wash the wound gently with soap and water.
- Apply pressure to the injured part with a clean towel to stop the bleeding.
- Cover the wound with a sterile bandage.
- Elevate the injury above heart level to slow swelling and prevent infection.
- Report the incident to the proper authority in your community (e.g., animal control office or police).
- Consult a doctor immediately.
- Seek medical help promptly. Do not wait for symptoms to appear before seeking medical attention.
- Remember the color and shape of the snake. This will help identify proper management.
- Do not pick up the snake or try to trap it.
- Do not panic. Venom spreads more rapidly through the body if the victim is agitated or anxious.
- Lay or sit down keeping the area below heart level.
- Clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water, and cover with a clean, dry dressing.
- Do not apply a tourniquet.
- Do not slash the wound with a knife.
- Do not suck out the venom.
- Do not drink alcohol or caffeinated drinks.
- Do not apply ice or immerse the wound in water.
For all Insect Bites and Stings:
- Wash the area with soap and water.
- Apply an antiseptic to prevent infection.
- Wrap a piece of ice in cloth and apply it to the area for 20 to 30 minutes.
- For pain, take paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen. (Do not give aspirin to children or teenagers. Aspirin has been linked to a severe illness called Reye’s syndrome in young people.)
- For itching, apply calamine lotion, nonprescription hydrocortisone cream, soothing oatmeal baths and/or cool compresses.
- For bee, wasp, hornet or yellow jacket stings:
- Remove the stinger with a fingernail or the edge of a credit card. Do not squeeze or pinch, this can release more venom under the skin.
For Mosquito Bites:
- Apply a paste of 1 teaspoon baking soda mixed with 1 teaspoon water.
- For spider bites:
- Apply ice to the wound for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Elevate the affected area.
- Seek medical care.
What your doctor can do
For Animal Bites:
- Examine the wound for possible nerve or tendon damage, bone injury and infection.
- Clean the wound with a special solution and remove any damaged tissue.
- Give you an injection of rabies vaccine immediately.
- Immunize you with anti-tetanus toxoid if you had your last shot more than 5 years ago.
- Leave it open to heal after thoroughly cleaning the wound and removing foreign material/s.
- Prescribe an antibiotic to prevent infection.
- Schedule a visit to check your wound again in 1 to 2 days.
- Suggest a specialist or hospital to administer intravenous antibiotics or other treatment if the injury is severe or the infection has not improved despite antibiotics.
- Instruct you to take the animal to a veterinarian who will observe the animal for signs of rabies.
- Immunize you with anti-tetanus toxoid.
- Treat the wound and surrounding tissue necrosis, if present.
- Give the correct anti-venom, if the snake is venomous.
- Treat shock, if necessary.
- For insect bites:
- Prescribe appropriate medication.
- Avoid all unrestrained domestic or farm animals that you are not familiar with.
- To prevent snake bites, stay away from tall grass and pile of leaves, and avoid climbing on rocks or piles of wood where a snake may be hiding.
- Support local ordinances that require that all domestic animals, especially dogs, be leashed and supervised at all times.
- Do not allow children to play time/s with animals unsupervised. Keep your pets up-to-date with their rabies vaccinations.
- Wear appropriate protective clothing if/when going to snake or bug infested areas.
- Wear boots and long pants when working outdoors.
- Wear leather gloves when handling bush or debris.
- For individuals with known allergies to insect bites, avoid these insects and/or take your physician-prescribed antihistamine before venturing into insect infested areas.
- Do not try to handle snake.
- Be aware that the snakes tend to be active at night and warm weather.