Animal Bites in children

 
Contributed by : Ravina Sewani   
Animal Bites in children

Treatment for animal bites depends on the type of animal that has bitten your child.

Treatment for animal bites depends on the type of animal that has bitten your child. Your child's healthcare provider will determine specific treatment for an animal bite. Treatment may include the below:


For bites from a household pet that is immunised and in good health:

  • Wash the wound with soap and water from a tap for at least 5 minutes. Don’t scrub the wound as this may bruise the tissue. Apply an antiseptic lotion or cream.
  • Watch for signs of infection. These signs include fever, increased redness or pain, swelling, or fluid leaking, or red streaks from the bite. Call your child's healthcare provider right away if you notice any of these.


For deeper bites from any animal, or for any bite from an unknown animal:

  • If the bite or scratch is bleeding, apply pressure to it with a clean bandage or towel to stop the bleeding.
  • Wash the wound with soap and water from a tap for at least 5 minutes. Don’t scrub the wound as this may bruise the tissue.
  • Dry the wound, apply antibiotic ointment, and cover it with a sterile dressing. Don’t use tape to close the wound as it can trap harmful bacteria in the wound.
  • Call your child's healthcare provider to decide if more treatment is needed. This may include antibiotics, a tetanus booster, rabies vaccine, or repair of the wound with stitches.


Get medical care if:

  • the wound is on the face, neck, hand, foot, or near a joint
  • the wound won't stop bleeding after 10 minutes of applying pressure
  • the wound appears to be deep, large, or severe
  • the attacking animal was stray or wild or behaving strangely
  • if there is a broken bone, nerve damage, or serious injury.
  • If your child has diabetes or a condition that weakens his/her immune system. 
  • your child’s last tetanus vaccine was more than 5 years ago.
  • the bite or scratch has pus coming out from it, or becomes red, hot, swollen, or increasingly painful


Keep in mind:

  • If the animal was unknown, try finding the animal if possible. This is necessary to capture the animal and watch it rabies. Contact the nearest animal control office in your area to capture the animal. If the animal cannot be found or is a high-risk species (raccoon, skunk, or bat), your child may need a series of rabies shots.
  • Call your child's healthcare provider for any flu-like symptoms after an animal bite. These symptoms may include fever, headache, ill feeling, loss of appetite, or swollen glands.
  • ‘Cat scratch disease’ is a bacterial infection that develops from a cat scratch (usually from a kitten) even if the scratch site doesn't look infected. So it is crucial to report to your child’s healthcare provider if a cat has bitten your child.


Prevention:

  • Teach your children to stay away from stray animals, and not to tease or provoke any animals, even if it’s family pets.
  • Make sure your pet is properly immunised and licensed.
  • Never leave your child alone with a pet.
  • Stay away from animals that are sick.
  • Keep your pets on a leash when in public.
  • Do not disturb animals when they are eating or sleeping.


In case of a Snake bite: Other than basic procedures carried out during animal bite treatment, snake bites specifically require treatment with antivenom.


Prevention of snake bites:

  • Avoid tall grassy areas.
  • Wear protective shoes/boots.
  • Keep storage areas clear of rodents.
  • Remove rubbish and woodpiles from around the home.



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