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Animal bites

Bites from sharp, pointed teeth cause deep puncture wounds. This can damage tissues and let germs into the skin, so you need to treat any bite that breaks the skin, to stop it getting infected.

One infection someone might get from an animal bite is rabies, which is a serious viral infection that attacks the brain and nervous system. If an infected animal bites a human, they will pass on the virus, through their saliva.

Almost all cases of rabies happen abroad. If someone hasn’t been vaccinated, then rabies is nearly always fatal, so you need to send the casualty to hospital straight away.

Tetanus (a bacterial infection) is also a potential risk after an animal bite.

What you need to do - Animal bites

• Wash the wound from the bite thoroughly with soap and warm water. This will reduce the risk of infection from an animal bite.

• Raise and support the wound and pat it dry, preferably with clean gauze from your first aid kit. Then cover it with a sterile wound dressing.

• If the wound is large or deep, then treat for bleeding and call 999/112 for an ambulance.

• If you think there’s a risk of rabies, then you need to get them to hospital as fast as you can.

• If the wound is dirty or they’re not sure if there if they’ve had a tetanus jab, then tell them to see their doctor.

If the bite is from another human, there’s also a small risk of getting hepatitis or HIV/AIDS viruses. This is much more unlikely but they should still see a doctor, in case.

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