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First Aid & Emergencies

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Animal and Human Bites - Check Your Symptoms

Call a doctor if:

  • The wound is severe and may need stitches, or it is on your face, hand, or foot, or over a joint. If the wound needs stitches, you should get them within 6 to 8 hours.
  • The bite or scratch is from a bat or other wild animal.
  • The bite is from a human or a cat. These bites get infected quickly and easily.
  • The animal that bit you foams at the mouth, acts strangely, or attacked for no clear reason. Also call the local animal control or public health office.
  • You can't find the owner of a pet that bit you, or the owner can't confirm that the pet's rabies vaccine is up to date.
  • You lose feeling or movement below the wound.
  • You have signs of infection. These may include increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness; red streaks leading from the wound; pus; and fever.
  • You have not had a tetanus shot in the past 5 years or don't know when your last shot was. If you need a shot, you should get it as soon as possible.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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