Most of the animal bites suffered in the United States today are from domestic animals. Dogs cause more injuries, but infections occur in more cat bites. According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, dog bites become infected about 1 percent of the time and cat bites become infected between 5 to 10 percent of the time.
The human body has a harder time fighting off infection if the injury is to the hands or fingers. This is where animal bites often occur. While many animal bites heal without issue, infections can cause a bit to become life-threatening.
The bacteria in an animal's mouth are introduced into the body through a bite that penetrates the skin. If the skin is not broken, there is no risk for infection. The bacteria multiply, and the symptoms of an infection begin to appear. Those symptoms include redness and swelling.
Scrapes and scratches do not have as high of a risk as puncture wounds have. This is one reason why cat bites become infected more often than dog bites. Bacteria can become trapped deep inside the skin, which can make the wound difficult to clean.
Some wild animals carry the rabies infection and that can be a life-threatening illness. Any wild animal bite should be seen by a doctor.
If you suffer an animal bite, make sure to clean it thoroughly. If signs of infection begin to appear, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
The owners of animals are responsible for animals' actions and can be held liable for the injuries they cause. An attorney can explain more about how to seek compensation for the damages and losses associated with an animal bite.
Source: Healthline, "Animal Bite Infections," Amber Erickson Gabbey, accessed Sep. 09, 2016