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Veterinary Public Health


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Veterinary Public Health Program
313 N Figueroa St. Rm 1127
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel (213) 989-7060
Tel: (877) 747-2243
Fax (213) 481-2375
vet@ph.lacounty.gov
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Three-steps response to animal bites

 

Because animals carry a lot of different bacteria or viruses in their mouth and saliva, bites from animals to people can cause infections or other serious health problems if not taken care of promptly. While every animal bite can be different in terms of severity, here are the 3 basic steps to take if bitten by an animal.

 

1. Washing/disinfecting the wound:

 

The first thing to do is to wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. This must be done immediately after the bite occurs to help remove bacteria and viruses from the wound. Disinfect the wound with alcohol, peroxide or a safe antiseptic made for skin. Cover the wound with a bandage to protect it from more contamination.

 

2. Consult your physician:

 

A bite from any animal should be assessed by your physician. He/she will decide if antibiotics, a tetanus booster, treatment to prevent rabies, or any other treatments are needed. Note that rabies can be transmitted by very small bites from bats in our county - even bites that do not bleed.

Some bites can push germs very deep under the skin and cannot be thoroughly cleaned without medical help. This is especially true of bites from cats or rodents.

 

3. Report the bite to Veterinary Public Health:

 

Anyone with knowledge of an animal bite to a person should report it to our office, except for bites from: small rodents (e.g. rats, mice, squirrels), rabbits, reptiles and birds. Bites from those animals do not transmit rabies (but they can still spread other germs).

Your physician may report the bite to our program. However, residents may also report bites directly to us or their local animal control agency. Follow this link for our online bite reporting portal. Our goal is to evaluate the risk of rabies being spread by the bite.

 

 

More information about animal bites and rabies risk in Los Angeles County:

 

Dog bite prevention tips

Dog bites in Los Angeles County

Reporting animal bites to people

Rat bite fever fast facts (Center for Food Safety and Public Health)

Lymphocytic choriomeningitis fast facts (Center for Food Safety and Public Health)

 

Last updated: 03/05/2014

 
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