Expert Plastic Surgeon Interview re: Animal Bites

Take These Steps After An Animal Bite

Alexandra Zendrian, NSLIJ dogNews | May 18, 2015 – 6:00am
GREAT NECK, NY – Once a person is bit by a dog or a cat, it triggers a great deal of stress and a lot of worry, but there are things people can do to try to prevent infections after an animal bite.
“As soon as it happens, wash it vigorously with soap and water, try to control the bleeding and apply some kind of antibiotic ointment and sterile dressing over it,” said Homayoun Sasson, MD, director of plastic surgery at Franklin Hospital in Valley Stream and Plainview Hospital. “Most animal bites should be evaluated by a doctor.”

Dr. Sasson notes that about 15 percent of dog bites become infected and approximately 30 percent of cat bites get infected.

“Because dogs have stronger jaws and heavier teeth, they wind up crushing the tissue more than a cat bite would,” Dr. Sasson said. “On the other hand, cat bites, because cats have sharper, needle-like teeth, they inoculate the bacteria that are on their teeth deep in the tissue once they bite. So it’s harder to clean those and it’s harder to prevent the infection.”

If a person experiences an animal bite where there is a significant loss of tissue and a deep wound, they should consider seeing a plastic surgeon, Dr. Sasson says.

In the case of a bite from a wild animal, there is a greater concern that a person can get rabies. In the U.S., rabies is typically transmitted by raccoons, horses, stray dogs and cats, Dr. Sasson says. Some symptoms of the rabies virus include weakness, headache and fever, he notes. There are vaccines that can be given to a person after a suspected case of rabies, but the best way to prevent getting rabies is to stay away from wild animals and to vaccinate all household pets, Dr. Sasson says.

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Posted in: Reconstructive Plastic Surgery

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