Always remember that rats and other rodents can deliver a nasty bite that can result to a serious infection. Care should be observed in order to contain any rodent after the bite was delivered in order to determine if the animal has an infection. For a rat bite, you should be familiar on how to deliver the appropriate first aid measures.
First aid steps for rat bites
- You have to stay safe and do not approach a wild rat. Take note that they are afraid of you. In case the rat is a pet and the owner is around, ask him/her to secure the rat. Always remember that rats will scratch or bite if handled improperly or frightened, so it is best to leave them alone.
- When helping out an individual who is bitten by a rat, always observe the universal precautions on first aid and use personal protective gear if available.
- If bleeding is present, you have to control it by applying pressure. Do not use a tourniquet unless the bleeding is severe and could not be controlled in any way.
- Once the bleeding is controlled, you have to clean the wound with warm water and soap. Always clean inside the wound and make sure to rinse all the soap or it can cause irritation.
- Cover the wound using a clean and dry dressing. You can apply an antibiotic treatment on the wound before covering. Take note that rat bites can often lead to an infection. In case the injury is on a finger, all rings should be removed since the finger might swell. You have to observe for the signs of infection such as swelling, redness, heat and draining pus.
- It is best to consult your doctor if the wound requires stitches. Rat bites are often deep and at high risk for infection.
- Rat bites on the hands or face should be checked by a doctor since there is high risk for scarring and loss of function.
- Rat bites can be contaminated with Spirillum minus. S. moniliformis or Streptobacillus moniliformis. These can result to rat bite fever and can occur 10 days after the bite was delivered. It is likely to occur after the wound is already healed. You have to watch out for headache, fever, vomiting and pain in the joints and back. Two to four days after the start of fever, a rash can develop in the feet or hands and one of the large joints can become red, painful and swollen. If this is the case, immediately consult a doctor.
Important consideration when dealing with rat bites
Always remember that infection is the main concern when it comes to animal bites, especially from rats. It is important to keep the area clean as possible throughout the healing process. Do not forget that there is a common misconception that rats are the main source of rabies. In reality, rabies can be acquired from bats. Raccoons are more expected to have rabies as well as bats, foxes and skunks. Just bear in mind that the transmission of rabies from rats to humans is considered very rare.