The most serious risk to humans from an animal bite or cut is rabies, according to the Mayo Clinic. Additionally, tetanus results from a deep, penetrating wound that is not thoroughly cleaned. Infection also is a possibility, especially if the person is bitten or scratched by a cat.Continue Reading
Most animal bites are caused by domestic animals. If the animal is immunized against rabies, the person who sustained the bite is not at risk for the disease. However, if the bite is from a wild animal or a domestic pet whose immunization status is unknown, the Mayo Clinic recommends seeing a doctor immediately.
The animals most likely to carry rabies are bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes. Bat bites are particularly troublesome because they are difficult to see. If a person is exposed to bats or is sleeping in an area where bats are present, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommend seeing a doctor right away.
Tetanus boosters are recommended every 10 years, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, a person who has not had a tetanus booster within five years and sustains a deep wound from an animal should see a doctor. The doctor determines if a booster is necessary after examining the wound.
According to the Mayo Clinic, animal wounds that become infected may appear red and swollen, ooze, or cause increased pain. Sometimes a cat scratch causes an infection known as cat scratch disease, which is characterized by a raised bump at the site of the injury and swollen lymph nodes in the area closest to the scratch. Although most infections are not serious, see a doctor if any of these symptoms occur.Learn more about Insect & Animal Bites