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How serious are animal bites?

Animal bites are very serious health concerns because they can cause infections and lead to the inability to use the affected limb, at least in the days immediately following the bite. If you are bitten by any animal, it is crucial that you get the medical care you need. From there, you can decide if you are going to seek compensation from the animal's owner to help cover medical bills and other expenses.

What are the biggest risks associated with animal bites?

Overall, the largest risk of any animal bite is an infection. Rabies is another concern for people who have been by wild animals or domestic animals that haven't been vaccinated. Proper medical care can help to evaluate the risks of these happening, and it can provide treatment for these risks.

What kind of treatments are necessary?

In some cases, very little treatment will be necessary. The wound will likely be cleaned and you might be given antibiotics. If there is a concern about other injuries, such as damaged bones or retained tooth fragments, imaging tests might be necessary. You might be given a tetanus shot if you haven't had one within the past five years. More serious bites or those that are associated with complications might require hospitalization. Approximately 5 to 10 percent of cat bites and 1 percent of dog bites in the United States lead to hospitalization.

If the animal that bit you was a domesticated animal, such as a ferret, dog or cat, you might decide to seek compensation. Keeping good records of the money you are out of and the care you had to receive could prove useful in your case.

Source: American Society for Surgery of the Hand, "Animal Bites," accessed Oct. 27, 2016

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