How are wounds managed following an animal bite?

Updated: Sep 18, 2018
  • Author: Alisha Perkins Garth, MD; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
  • Print

Oehler and colleagues proposed the following wound management strategy following animal bites, aimed at preventing severe complications [24] :

  • Culture for aerobes and anaerobes if abscess, severe cellulitis, devitalized tissue, or sepsis is present

  • Use saline solution for wound irrigation

  • Debride necrotic tissue and remove any foreign bodies

  • If fracture or bone penetration has occurred, radiography is indicated (MRI or CT may also be indicated)

  • Initiate prophylactic antibiotics in selected cases (based on type and specific animal species involved)

  • If methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is suspected, first-line antibiotics include trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, doxycycline, minocycline, and clindamycin [25]

  • Hospitalization is indicated if fever, sepsis, spreading cellulitis, severe edema, crush injury, or loss of function is present

  • Administer tetanus booster (if none given in past year) or initiate primary series in nonvaccinated individuals (see Tetanus for further recommendations)

  • Assess the need for rabies vaccine and immunoglobulin (see Rabies for further recommendations)

For additional information, see Medscape's Wound Management Resource Center.

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!