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First Aid for Animal Bites in Los Angeles: Types, Treatments & Symptoms
With the weather warming up and Los Angeles residents seeking out more outdoor activities, there is that increased risk that you may be exposed to wildlife while you’re out there.
More exposure to wildlife can mean more exposure to animal bites.
You can be more prepared for your adventure when you know about the kinds of animals you may be exposed to on trails, parks, and outdoor spaces. As well as, what to do if you suffer an animal bite, and when to seek animal bite treatment in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Animal Bite Treatment: General Tips
Before diving into treatment options for the different types of animal bites, it’s important to know a few rules of thumb following any bite, or even scratch, from a wild or domesticated animal.
Keep in mind that if you’re unsure of an animal’s vaccination status, particularly in the case of a wild animal, you may be at risk for rabies, tetanus, or a severe infection. Therefore, it’s essential to get yourself to an emergency room as soon as possible so a healthcare professional can recommend the next course of action.
Seek medical attention immediately if you’re also experiencing the following:
- You were bitten by a wild animal or venomous snake/spider.
- The bite is deep enough that it may require stitches.
- You’re unable to stop the bleeding.
- You’re having trouble breathing or developing a fever.
- You feel fatigued, headaches, or have decreased appetite since the bite.
Sometimes animal bites can mean stitches, even surgery in the most aggressive cases. However, with more minor bites or animal scratches, an urgent care in Los Angeles will be able to clean and treat your wound.
Ahead of your visit, cleaning your wound with soap and water, applying an antibiotic ointment, and dressing the injury may help prevent infection.
Dog Bite Treatment
Dog bites are the most common animal bite in the United States, with over 4.5 million dog bites annually. The most obvious sign of a dog bite is the puncture wound itself, most common on the hands, fingers, neck, or head.
For minor bites from a dog where the vaccination status is known, the immediate treatment should be applying pressure to the area to stop any bleeding. Follow that with cleaning the wound with warm water and soap and covering the area with a clean, dry bandage.
Watch for signs of infection following any dog bite:
- The bite area is swelling, reddening, or warm to the touch.
- The site is oozing pus with increasing pain.
- Red streaks are forming away from the wound.
- The bite victim is developing a fever.
Children make up the largest percentage of those bitten by dogs, so it’s important that any children in your care have a good understanding of commonsense dog safety tips: never approach strange dogs, gently interact with known dogs and never approach dogs without adult supervision.
Snake Bite Treatment
The most common snake in the Los Angeles area is the Southern Pacific rattlesnake, but several varieties can bite if you happen upon their paths.
The best course of action in preventing snake bites is always hiking with solid hiking boots and watching where you’re stepping, as snake bites are defensive.
If a snake bites you, you’ll know it right away. You’ll likely see a puncture wound with pain at the bite site. Severe symptoms that follow rattlesnake bites can include nausea and vomiting, blurred vision, low blood pressure, excessive thirst, or intense fatigue.
Following a snake bite, it’s important to follow two key steps:
- Remove anything around the bite area that may constrict blood flow.
- Seek medical attention immediately.
Your healthcare professional will want to know what kind of snake bit you, so try to spot any identifying features if it’s safe to do so. If it had that telltale rattle, you’re dealing with one of the state’s rattlesnake varieties. Never approach a snake, though, just to determine its species.
Venomous snake bites will likely require antivenom treatment. A healthcare professional will clean, treat and dress your snake bite appropriately, but prompt animal bite treatment is essential here.
Bee Sting Treatment
Bee stings for most summertime revelers are an annoyance, but an allergic reaction to a bee sting can become serious if not properly treated.
With a minor sting, you’ll likely suffer little more than pain at the bee sting site. Try removing the stinger if it’s visible, wash the area with warm soap and water, and apply a cold compress to relieve any pain you’re feeling.
Over-the-counter pain medications or antihistamines may help more moderate symptoms, like if the pain isn’t going away.
If you experience an allergic reaction or go into anaphylaxis following a bee sting, seek medical attention immediately. Watch for hives, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, and fever, even if you’ve never reacted to that before.
You may not even know that you’re allergic to bee stings, as allergies can develop over time. Those with known allergies typically travel with an epinephrine auto-injector like an EpiPen and inject a dose of the medicine following any bee sting.
Jellyfish Sting Treatment
If you enjoy spending time at the beach, you’ve likely seen jellyfish. They’re found floating in the water and on the sandy shores, so it’s important to be aware of the sea creatures to avoid potential stings.
Quick note: Jellyfish tentacles can still sting even if you think they’re dead while out on the beach.
A jellyfish’s sting feels like a burning or tingling sensation. A rash and swelling at the sting site can follow. In more severe cases, stings can cause nausea and vomiting, dizziness, even difficulty breathing.
If you’re stung by a jellyfish in Los Angeles, find the nearest lifeguard. They will likely have a salve on hand made up of saline and vinegar to give you some immediate relief.
While most jellyfish stings in Southern California are of the mild variety, allergic reactions do occur. If you’re experiencing any difficulty breathing or developing hives after a jellyfish sting, seek medical attention immediately.
When to Seek Animal Bite Treatment
Immediate action at home may prevent infection down the line following an animal bite. Still, it’s important to follow up any incident with a wild or domesticated animal with a visit to a healthcare professional. You may not be aware that your bite is on the verge of infection, and a doctor can prescribe a course of treatment for you, like antibiotics.
Schedule an appointment to treat an animal bite in Los Angeles even if you feel like the bite is minor. This is one of those situations where it’s best to err on the side of caution.
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