Animal Bite of Finger

The demerits of animal bite to the finger

We have established in previous posts that animals do bite humans. These bites, if not well treated may result in infections. Bites from pets such as dogs and cats, are common. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, millions of people in the United States are bitten yearly by animals. Most bites occur on the finger or the hand.

The hands have a unique structure. This can make severe bites to be extremely dangerous. Also, the blood supply to your hands is lesser than that supplied to other parts of the body. Because of this, you may find it a bit difficult to combat infections that may arise from a bite.

Animal bite to the finger is usually not life-threatening. However, in the event that an infection from a bite spreads, it can result in serious medical issues.

Most animal bites in the United States are caused by dogs. However, most animals will also bite if they feel threatened. Do not approach or touch any wild animals.

Symptoms of an animal bite to the finger

In most cases, animal bite of the finger causes common symptoms such as pain, redness or swelling. If the bite does not break the skin, then you have very slim chances of developing an infection. Chances of an infection are raised when the skin is broken.

Symptoms that may indicate an infection include:

  • Pain, redness or swelling lasting longer than 24 hours
  • Pus that drains from the wound or bite
  • Red streaks running up the arm or hand.
  • Pain or tenderness under the elbow or armpit due to swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills or fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of sensation in your finger tip.

Seek immediate medical care if you observe any of these symptoms after an animal bite. You may schedule an appointment with your physician or go to your local emergency room.

Rabies: A bite from an animal infected with rabies is a very serious condition indeed. Wild animals such as skunks, raccoons, bats and foxes are common carriers of this fatal virus. Household pets may also harbor the virus if they are not well vaccinated. A bite from a rabies-infected animal can trigger the initial symptoms of fever, muscle weakness and headache. As the disease progresses, the symptoms may include:

  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Mood agitation
  • An increase in saliva
  • Hallucinations
  • Fear of water
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Paralysis

If rabies are not well-treated, it may lead to death.

Diagnosis of an animal bite of the finger

The bite will be examined by your physician, and you will be asked about the animal that bit you. You are less-likely to get an infection/rabies from a pet dog or any domesticated animal than a bite from a wild animal.

Your physician will ask if you have had a tetanus shot within the last five years. Your hand may also be X-rayed to check for broken bones. If you have an infection, an X-ray will let your doctor know if the bone has also been infected.

Your physician may also order for blood tests if he or she feels that the infection has spread through the body.

Treatment for an animal bite of the finger

If you experience an animal bite on your finger, the kind of treatment given will depend on the severity of the bite and on the presence of infection.

For instance, the bite of a kitten on the fingers will not cause much damage compared to the bite of a strong dog on the finger. However, a cat bite usually has a greater risk of infection.

Bites that don’t break the skin: If the bite is not a major one and does not break the skin, wash the bitten area with soap and water. Apply an OTC antibiotic cream to the bite area and cover it up with a bandage. This will reduce your risk of contracting diseases or infections.

Bites that are deep: If you have deep bites, consult your physician immediately for help. He or she will help clean up the wound and stop the bleeding. They will also examine the wound to check if a surgery is required or if you need stitches to fix any damage. Your physician will also check for nerve damage.

Bites that cause infection: Antibiotics may be prescribed if an animal bite may cause an infection. Some of these medications may be taken at home. However, if you have serious symptoms, your physician will give you some intravenous medication.

Bites that cause tetanus: Tetanus affects the central nervous system. It is a bacterial infection. People affected by tetanus experience muscle contractions and breathing difficulties. It can prove fatal.

Wounds that causes skin puncture, such as those from an animal bite, places a person more at risk of a tetanus. The tetanus bacteria is present in soil, animal feces, and dust. It can also be found on the animal that bit you.

Because the tetanus-causing bacteria exists in so many places, it is important that you and your kids receive a tetanus vaccine at least once in ten years.

Bites that cause rabies: If you are bitten by a wild animal, or an animal with a confirmed case of rabies, you will need be given four injections:

  • On the day you were bitten by the animal
  • Three days after exposure to the bite
  • A week after exposure
  • Two weeks after the exposure

Prognosis

Outlook depends on the severity of the bite. If you have a minor bite, then you have very high chances of a full recovery. On the other hand, if you have rabies, or develop and infection, then immediate treatment will boost your chances of a successful recovery.

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