With the RMCO, we find ourselves spending more time at home. Those who have pets will tend to spend more bonding time with their pet cat or dog, etc.
Some pets can adapt, as they are happy with the extra attention received, but some pets find their routine disturbed and may act negatively to the increased affection and attention, sometimes by biting the owner.
There are other reasons why pets suddenly bite their owners, such as out of self-defense, when suddenly startled, if a pet thinks it is threatened, injury, tiredness or illness.
Cat bites are more likely to become infected, whereas dogs cause more bite injuries. Data from the American Academy of Pediatrics show infections occur in nearly 50 percent of cat bites, and in 10 – 15 percent of dog bites. This could be a reason why dogs are preferred as home pets!
When provoked or excited, dogs and cats mostly bite the hands or fingers, legs or feet; areas that can easily be infected. Bacteria from your pet’s mouth can cause infection when it’s bite penetrates your skin.
Initial signs of bacterial infection are redness, pain, swelling and inflammation at the area bitten. Seek medical treatment if the symptoms continue for more than 24 hours.
Other symptoms of infection from animal bites include:
- tenderness or numbness in area surrounding the bite area
- pus, oozing fluid or red streaks from the bitten area
- swollen lymph notes
- fever or chills
- difficulty breathing
- muscle weakness or shaking uncontrollably
Infections from animal bites are serious and if left untreated, can be life-threatening, with puncture wounds from cat bites having the highest risk of infection, since cats have long and sharp teeth.
Animal bites are often polymicrobial, i.e., multiple strains of bacteria are present. Two most dangerous bacterial infection are Tetanus (lockjaw) and Rabies (mad dog disease), which are serious medical conditions that must be urgently treated.
Inform your doctor if your pet shows symptoms of illness as well, as your pet may then need to be tested and observed by a veterinarian.
Here is some general information on Tetanus and Rabies that we should be aware of in case anyone has been bitten by a pet or stray animal:
Tetanus is a serious infection that affects the nervous system causing muscles to contract. It is also called lockjaw because the infection normally starts off with the muscles in the neck and jaw contracting, before spreading to the rest of the body. Symptoms include:
- difficulty swallowing
- stiff jaw and neck muscles
- stiffness in abdominal muscles
- painful body spasms
- increased heart rate and blood pressure
- fever or sweating
Treatment for tetanus must be done at a hospital, and will include antibiotics, tetanus vaccine, muscle relaxants, tetanus immune globulin (TIG). Left untreated, tetanus can be fatal.
Rabies is highly present in Asian countries especially in areas where there are high dog populations. Rabies affects the central nervous system, causing inflammation of the brain.
The symptoms are:
- high fever
- difficulty swallowing
- muscle weakness
There are two forms of rabies:
Furious rabies – those infected will be hyperactive, excitable and display erratic behavior, e.g.,
- excess salivation
- fear of water
- difficulty swallowing
Paralytic rabies – similar effects to Furious rabies that take longer to set in.
Those infected with either form of Rabies slowly become paralyzed, slip into a coma and die. The rabies virus spreads very quickly from the punctured site through nerve cells to the brain where it quickly multiplies, causing brain and spinal cord damage and the person deteriorates and dies very rapidly.
In 99% of the cases, domestic dogs are responsible for the transmission of rabies, according to a World Health Organization fact sheet dated 221 April 2020.
Rabies is a vaccine-preventable viral disease. However, if a person is not vaccinated, it is virtually 100% fatal.
It is important to capture alive the animal that caused the bite, as the doctors would need to test it and observe it for a period of time. Your pet dog, cat, rabbit and wild animals can transfer rabies to humans via bites.
There are more and more animals being cruelly abandoned due to the current economic crisis. Do not approach, pat or befriend an unknown or stray animal, no matter how cute or hurt it may seem. Seek the help of an animal shelter instead.
Those involved in voluntary work in animal shelters should be vaccinated against tetanus and rabies. Pet owners must take responsibility to have their pets vaccinated accordingly.
We hope this article has provided our readers some information on the dangers of animal bites. This article should not be taken as medical advice, and readers are always advised to get proper medical information from a doctor, or in this case, a veterinarian.
2nd September 20:30 2020