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BITES AND SCRATCHES

One to two million Americans are bitten by animals annually, and bites are responsible for 1% of emergency department visits. The estimated annual incidence of animal bites is as follows: dog bites, 1-2 million; cat bites, 400,000; snake bites, 45,000; and rats and mice, 43,000. An increased risk of infection in patients more than 50 years of age, those with wounds of the upper extremities, and those with puncture wounds has been noted. Prior splenectomy or mastectomy may increase the risk of severe infection. Wild rat bites present public health problems. Bites cause pain, anxiety, wound disfigurement, and wound infections. Many organisms are capable of infecting animal bite wounds including Pasteurella spp., Capnocytophaga canimorsus, Afipia felis, Rochalimaea henselae and R. quintana, Clostridium tetani, Streptobacillus moniliformis, Spirillum minus, Tularemia, and Rabies. Bites from non-human primates (NHP's) infected with Herpes B-Virus could pose a serious threat to humans. Pit Bulls were reported to be responsible for 20% of dog bite-related fatalities in 1979/80. By 1987-88, the breed was responsible for 62% of such deaths.

TREATMENT OF BITE WOUNDS:

Maintain records of all bites and scratches in the animal facility. Notify physician. A lab animal program should have an occupational medicine service available that understands the problems associated with animal handling and is informed about zoonotic diseases.
* Cultures should be taken and clean wound properly.
* All wounds should be liberally irrigated.
* Edematous body parts should be elevated.
* Apply antiseptic.
* Tetanus must be current.
* Assess Rabies or Herpes B risk (notify public health personnel).
* Antibiotic therapy should be based on the wound culture.