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Have you just been bitten by an animal or another human? Here's what you need to know about emergency care.

At least half of the US population will sustain a bite wound at least once in their lives — and though we'll never know exact figures as not everyone who is bitten seeks medical care, it is safe to say that bite wounds are far from rare. They're also potentially really quite dangerous.

Knowing what to do when you are bitten plays an enormous role in preventing complications, so let's take a look at the steps you need to take if some creature sinks its teeth into you or someone around you.

Vicious, Nasty Animals

Human bites typically affect the face, hands and arms, or torso. They leave an oval or semi-circular marking that most people would recognize, as well as bruising and often punctures. Human bites are frequently more serious than they look, and up to 15 percent of them become infected. Children are most likely to fall victim to human bite wounds, which they tend to get from peers who seemingly haven't yet learned that biting isn't a good way to show dissatisfaction, but adults can get them, too, obviously.

Human bites need to be taken seriously due to the possibility of hepatitis B and C, tetanus, syphilis, herpes, tuberculosis, and lots of different bacterial infections. Though it's also possible to transmit HIV by biting someone, this is thankfully exceedingly rare.

Dog bites represent the most common type of bite wound, with an estimated five million people falling victim to them in the US alone every year. With their rounded teeth, dogs are able to exert a huge amount of pressure, and dog bites can lead to lacerations, puncture wounds, crush injuries, torn off flesh, and even instant death. Children are again the most common victims of dog bites, and the right hand, neck and head are the most frequently injured areas. Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and Klebsiella are just a few of the bacterial species commonly responsible for dog bite infections.

Cat bites are rarer and cats generally do less physical damage with their bites, but make no mistake — with their long, sharp teeth, cats are able to "inject" the bacteria they carry deeply into their victims' tissues. Cats tend to target the hands and arms, and two thirds of their bites lead to infections of some kind or another.

Data on other types of mammal bites are severely lacking, but it's clear that rats, ferrets, raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, and guinea pigs can and do all bite on occasion. Snake bites are also not uncommon in the US, with approximately 7000 venomous snake bites annually.

What action do you need to undertake if you or someone you know is bitten by a human or another creature? This depends both on the type of animal that caused the bite, on how severe the wound is, and on whether the animal is a pet that's known to have been vaccinated or an "unknown wild card".

No matter what's next, first aid matters — and for this reason, it is important to stay calm, take the right steps, and assess what to do next.
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