Animals are friends, but because of the ferocious nature of some, animals can also harm anyone, even their masters. In all cases of animal bites, there is the risk of infection, even if the bite is small. In fact, a scratch can also bring about complications. The following wounds have a high risk of infection:
· Puncture or crush wounds.
· Hand or foot wounds. These anatomic areas have a relatively small cross-sectional area composed of numerous tendons, vessels, and bones, making the risk of morbidity higher.
· Wounds given initial care after 12 hours from the animal bite incident.
· Cat or human bites. Wounds caused by cats and humans are notoriously known of having high infectious complication rate. A typical feline bite is deep and difficult to irrigate or clean.
· Wounds in immunosuppressed patients, such as cancer patients and those on chemotherapeutic drugs.
Careful and prompt local wound care is the most vital factor in satisfactory healing and infection prevention. In situations for which special attention is called, you can be a first-aid provider.
1. Stay calm and direct the affected person to do the same. Before attending to the wound, wash your hands with soap and water. Avoid or minimize touching the wound with your bare hand, especially if you don’t know the patient (AIDS and hepatitis precaution). Wear gloves if possible.
2. Soap the wound and rinse with running water. Assuming that medical materials are readily available, forcefully irrigate the wound with minimum of 200 mL of normal saline solution. A 19-gauge needle attached to a 30 mL syringe provides enough pressure for decontamination. This decreases the infection rate 30 fold. Do not routinely use stronger antiseptics like povidone iodine, hexachlorophene, alcohols, or hydrogen peroxide (agua oxigenada). They are too strong and can cause damage to the wound surface and delay the healing process. Also, there is no proof that soaking the wound in certain preparations reduces infections.
3. For cases of extensive wounds (in which flesh or bones are exposed) of the extremities, immobilize the affected arm or leg by putting a piece of hard carton or wood beneath it, strapped and slinged with a clean cloth. Keep the affected extremity elevated as much as possible. If the skin is badly torn and profusely bleeding, apply pressure with a clean and dry cloth, then, rush to your doctor.