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Animal Bites, Bug Bites & Stings

Stegomyia aegypti (formerly Aedes aegypti) mos...

Stegomyia aegypti (formerly Aedes aegypti) mosquito biting a human. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Animal bites, bug bites and stings can turn into a dangerous scenario during a disaster, so it’s important that all are dealt with as quickly as possible. Here’s how;

Animal bites

  • Minor wounds which have barely broken the skin should be treated just the same as any other minor wound. Wash it thoroughly with soap and water, apply a little antibiotic cream to prevent it becoming infected and cover with a clean bandage . . . all of which should be handy in your disaster first aid kit.
  • Deep wounds which have punctured the skin and is bleeding should be treated by applying pressure using a clean, dry cloth to stop the bleeding.  Find a doctor for further treatment as soon as possible, but just make sure that you stop the bleeding and keep the wound as clean and sterile as possible.
  • If you see swelling, redness or other signs of infection then you really do need to get the patient to a doctor as soon as possible.

Doctors recommend that we all have our tetanus shot every 10 years, so it’s important that you keep up to date with these things. If it’s more than five years since your last shot then you may need a booster.

If you are bitten by a wild animal, or indeed a domestic animal which as not been immunized then you may be at risk of rabies. Rabies is most common among bats, skunks, foxes and raccoons, it is unlikely to be present in dogs and cats, as well as squirrels, rabbits and other rodents.

Bug Bites & Stings

There are different signs and symptoms of bug bites and stings, usually caused by an injection of some type of venom into your skin. This can cause pain, swelling and may trigger an allergic reaction, the severity of which depends entirely on how sensitive you are to the venom or other substance, and how many times you’ve actually been bitten or stung. The reaction to an insect bite or sting is usually quite mild, more annoying than painful really, causing stinging or itching which will usually disappear after a day or so.  You might also suffer from a delayed reaction causing hives, fever, swollen glands and painful joints. A small number of people will develop anaphylaxis to insect venom.

For mild reactions to bug bites & stings;

  • move away to avoid getting more stings or bites.
  • If you can see the stinger remove it (you should have tweezers in your first aid disaster kit). This will prevent any more venom from being released.
  • Wash the area thoroughly using soap and water.
  • If possible, apply a cold pack to help reduce swelling.
  • Take some form of pain relief like ibuprofen.
  • Rub in a little cream to help ease the pain and relieve the itching.
  • Take an antihistamine tablet, something like Benadryl

For more severe reactions to bug bites & stings like difficulty in breathing or swelling of the lips and throat, check out how to treat someone during a disaster situation who is suffering from anaphylaxis.

You might not have all of this stuff to hand during a disaster emergency, but every little bit of knowledge helps in these situations, so pay attention!

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