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The pathophysiology of animal bites: Why you should be concerned

Dogs are not the only domestic or wild animal that can bite a human and cause serious injury. While dog bites are certainly the most prevalent bite, feline bites can also cause serious injury as can ferret and rodent bites. Despite warnings against it, many people choose to make pets of more exotic animals as well, which is why it is important to learn more about various types of animal bites.

Even if you do not own any pets, you or a family member will most likely spend at least some time in the presence of animals at some point. Most people like animals, and that is good, but some caution when in the vicinity of unknown animals is certainly warranted.

Here is the pathophysiology of some of the most common animal bites:

Dog bites usually result in crush wounds due to the pressure of their bites, but they can also deposit bacteria that could make the victim ill.

Cats have sharp pointed teeth, which can penetrate quite deeply, leaving behind dangerous bacteria such as Staphylococcus, Pasteurella and many others. Cat bite infections typically develop much faster than dog bite infections.

Most animals can transmit rabies through a bite if they are infected, including raccoons, foxes, bats and skunks. Infected domestic pets like cats and dogs can also spread rabies.

Ferrets, a member of the weasel family, could also cause injury through biting. This is especially so with infants and young children.

If a member of your family has suffered illness or injury due to an animal bite, it is important to understand that you have legal rights. Do not believe you have to settle for whatever the animal owner or insurance company offers you, especially if the amount is not enough to cover your associated expenses or pain and suffering. If you elect to pursue the matter, a New Hampshire-based attorney could likely help you get the damages you seek.

Source: eMedicine - Medscape, "Animal Bites in Emergency Medicine," accessed May. 05, 2015

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