Bites and Scratches Symptoms & Causes

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In-Depth

Dog bites

The most common type of animal bite is a dog bite. More than a million Americans are attacked by dogs each year, and about half of them are children. About five percent of dog bites and 20 to 50 percent of cat bites become infected. Bites that break the skin and bites of the scalp, face, hand, wrist or foot are more likely to become infected.

Bites from other animals

Cat scratches, even from a kitten, can carry "cat scratch disease," a bacterial infection. Other animals can transmit rabies and tetanus. Rodents such as mice, rats, squirrels, chipmunks, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils and rabbits are at low risk to carry rabies.

How can I help prevent an animal from biting my child?

Follow these guidelines to help decrease the chance of your child being bit by an animal:

  • Never leave a young child alone with an animal.
  • Teach your child not to tease or hurt an animal.
  • Teach your child to avoid strange dogs, cats, and other animals.
  • Have your pets licensed and immunized against rabies and other diseases.
  • Keep your pets in a fenced yard or confined to a leash.
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