Animals Bites: How Infectious Diseases Come From Animals Bites

Animals Bites: How Infectious Diseases Come From Animals Bites

Animals Bites: How Infectious Diseases Come From Animals Bites


Animals Bites: How Infectious Diseases Come From Animals Bites.

Domestic animals, like dogs and cats, are responsible for most animal bites. While dogs cause more bite injuries, cat bites are more likely to become infected. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infection occurs in about 10 to 15 percent of dog bites and up to 50 percent of cat bites.

More than half of the infectious diseases that affect people come from animals. Now, for the first time, the government is releasing a list of the top eight illnesses spread from animals — called zoonotic diseases — in the United States.

The list includes some strains of the flu, Salmonella infection, West Nile virus, the plague, emerging coronaviruses such as Middle East respiratory syndrome,rabies,brucellosis (a bacterial infection) and Lyme disease, according to the list, released May 6 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Experts from the CDC, along with experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior, came up with the list during a workshop held last December in Washington, D.C.


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The eight illnesses were chosen based on the potential for the disease to cause an epidemic or pandemic, the severity of the disease, the economic impact, the potential for the introduction or spread of the disease in the U.S., and the potential for bioterrorism. (An epidemic refers to when a disease affects more of a given population than expected; a pandemic refers to a worldwide epidemic.)

Take the flu, for example. The flu can sicken many different animals, including cats, dogs and bats. And though certain strains of the virus are typically contained within certain species, the strains change all the time. In rare cases, the virus can mutate in a way that allows it to hop from whichever animal it usually infects to humans, and from there, spread to other humans.

Flu pandemics typically happen as a result of this hop from animals to humans.

Other zoonotic illnesses on the list include salmonellosis, caused by Salmonella bacteria, which leads to about 1.2 million illnesses every year in the U.S., according to the CDC. People can become infected by this bacterium if they eat food contaminated with the bacteria.

Also on the list is a very rare, yet very serious zoonotic infection known as rabies, which is caused by a virus that can spread from animal bites.

One reason that animal bites often lead to infection is that bites often occur on the fingers or hands. These areas are where the body may have a harder time fighting infection. Also, the bacteria often come from the animal’s mouth or may be present on the human’s skin. The infections are often caused by these bacteria penetrating the skin.

As the bacteria multiply, the body’s immune response causes common symptoms of infection. Swelling and inflammation are two examples. Animal bite infections are serious and can even be life-threatening if left untreated.

Animal bites that don’t break the skin are not at risk for infection. Scrapes or scratches that just graze the skin’s surface have a minimal risk of infection. Cuts or lacerations have a higher risk of infection. Puncture wounds caused by cats are considered to have the highest risk of infection.

What Are The Different Types Of Animal Bites?

Dog bites

Even the gentlest dog can bite if injured, scared, or overexcited. And all dog breeds have the potential to bite. Most of the time a person is bitten by a dog they know. Injuries from a dog bite make up 85 to 90 percent of animal bites in the United States, and 1 percent of injury-related visits to the emergency room, according to American Family Physician.

Cat bites

Cat teeth can cause deep puncture wounds that are hard to clean. Since the teeth are sharp, a wound can be deep yet small, making it easier for it to heal over. This can trap bacteria inside the wound.

Of all animal bites reported in the United States, 5 to 10 percent are from cats. Most people bitten by cats are women. And most cat bites are the result of intentional contact, like attempting to feed or pet the cat.

What Causes Animal Bite Infections?

Infection from animal bites is caused by bacteria. The bacteria can be found in the mouth or saliva of the animal. The bacteria then enter the wound after being on the skin.

Animal bites are often polymicrobial, which means that multiple species of bacteria are involved.

Tetanus, a bacterial disease affecting the nervous system, can develop from the bacteria. This is a serious condition. Puncture wounds from animal bites are the most likely to lead to tetanus.

Symptoms Of Animal Bite Infections?

The most common symptoms of infection from animal bites are redness, pain, swelling, and inflammation at the site of the bite. You should seek immediate medical treatment if any of these symptoms continue for more than 24 hours.

Other symptoms of infection include:

  • pus or fluid oozing from the wound
  • tenderness in areas near the bite
  • loss of sensation around the bite
  • limited use of the finger or hand if the hand was bitten
  • red streaks near the bite
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • fever or chills
  • night sweats
  • fatigue
  • breathing difficulties
  • muscle weakness or tremors

How Are Animal Bite Infections Treated?

The first step with an animal bite is to properly clean and assess the wound. This could help prevent infection in an animal bite. To properly clean an animal bite, take the following steps.

For a minor wound:

  • Wash the area thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Cover the area with a fresh, clean bandage.

For a deep wound, suspected rabies, or a wound showing symptoms of infection:

  • Apply pressure to stop any bleeding using a clean cloth.
  • Wash the area thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Seek immediate medical attention to look for signs of infection.

If an infection develops, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. A typical round of treatment will last five to 10 days. However, the length of your treatment may vary based on many factors, including:

  • the type of bite
  • the severity of the bite
  • existing health issues

For infected bites, your doctor may recommend intravenous (IV) antibiotics until the infection clears. But most infected bites will only need oral antibiotics.

Your doctor might also suggest a tetanus booster shot. This depends on how severe the bite is and your vaccination status.

After performing blood tests to determine the extent of the infection, your doctor might need to stitch the wound. They may also ask you to return for a follow-up visit after 48 hours to monitor the wound.

If left untreated, infection from animal bites could spread and cause serious medical problems. Infection generally develops within 24 to 48 hours.

How Are Animal Bite Infections Treated?

The first step with an animal bite is to properly clean and assess the wound. This could help prevent infection in an animal bite. To properly clean an animal bite, take the following steps.

For a minor wound:

  • Wash the area thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Cover the area with a fresh, clean bandage.

For a deep wound, suspected rabies, or a wound showing symptoms of infection:

  • Apply pressure to stop any bleeding using a clean cloth.
  • Wash the area thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Seek immediate medical attention to look for signs of infection.

If an infection develops, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. A typical round of treatment will last five to 10 days. However, the length of your treatment may vary based on many factors, including:

  • the type of bite
  • the severity of the bite
  • existing health issues

For infected bites, your doctor may recommend intravenous (IV) antibiotics until the infection clears. But most infected bites will only need oral antibiotics. Your doctor might also suggest a tetanus booster shot. This depends on how severe the bite is and your vaccination status. [Can Rusty Nails Really Give You Tetanus?]

After performing blood tests to determine the extent of the infection, your doctor might need to stitch the wound. They may also ask you to return for a follow-up visit after 48 hours to monitor the wound.

An infected animal bite should start to look and feel better within 48 hours of treatment. If you do not notice an improvement, be sure to contact your doctor immediately.

 

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