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How many people each year suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death after a hospital visit?
from 46,000 to 78,000
from 78,000 to 132,000
from 132,000 to 210,000
from 210,000 to 440,000

 Emergency & First Aid: Animal Bites: First Aid for Animal Bites - Emergency Conditions 
American Institute for Preventive Medicine ©

Bites & Stings

For Bites

Signs & Symptoms

  • Swelling. Redness. Pain. Itching.
  • Bleeding.
  • Tissue loss, if the wound is severe.
  • Skin rash. With Lyme disease, a red bull's eye rash with a white center around the bite occurs. Fatigue, fever, and joint pain may also occur.
  • Lockjaw. This is a painful, persistent stiffness of the jaw due to a toxin. Tetanus shots can prevent this. (See Immunization Schedule.)
  • Allergic reaction, such as with insect bites. (See Signs & Symptoms of Allergies.)
  • Causes

  • Dog, cat, and human bites are the most common animal bites in the U.S.
  • Black widow and brown recluse spider bites can cause severe reactions.
  • Deer tick bites can cause Lyme disease, a bacterial infection.
  • Less common, but more dangerous, are bites from skunks, raccoons, bats, and other animals that live in the wild. These animals can have rabies. This is a serious viral infection. It can be fatal. Most house pets are vaccinated for rabies. It's unlikely they carry the virus.
  • Deer tick on scalp.

  • Mosquito bites can cause West Nile virus if the mosquito is infected with it.
  • Snake bites can be fatal if the bite is from a poisonous snake (e.g., rattlesnakes, cotton mouths, copperheads, and coral snakes).
  • Shark bites are a potential problem when swimming in shark-infested waters.

  • Treatment

    Self-care can be used for dog and cat bites that cause scratches on the skin and for insect bites that do not cause a severe allergic reaction. All human bites that break the skin should be checked by a doctor due to the high risk for infection. A series of rabies shots can prevent the spread of rabies to humans. The shots should begin soon after a bite from an infected animal. Antivenom can be given for poisonous snake bites at emergency medical facilities. It should be given within 4 hours of the bite.

    For Stings

    Signs & Symptoms

  • Quick, sharp pain.
  • Swelling, itching, and redness at the sting site. These can occur beyond the sting site.
  • Raised bump (with or without pus).
  • Signs of a severe allergic reaction.

  • Causes

  • Insect stings.
  • Marine animals that sting include jellyfish, Portuguese Man-of-War, and sea nettles.

  • Treatment

    Self-care treats mild reactions to stings. A severe allergic reaction needs immediate care. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction usually happen soon after or within an hour of the sting. Persons with a severe allergic reaction to a sting in the past should carry an emergency kit, prescribed by a doctor. A medical alert tag should be worn to let others know of the allergy. Persons who have had severe reactions to bee or wasp stings should ask their doctors about allergy shots.

    Questions to Ask

    Are any of these problems present?

  • Signs of a severe allergic reaction. {Note: Before emergency care, use emergency kit as directed.}
  • Signs of shock.
  • The bite severely mangled the skin and/or causes severe bleeding. {Note: See First Aid For Severe Bleeding.}
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