Information for Patients
Wild animals usually avoid people. They might attack, however, if they feel threatened, are sick, or are protecting their young or territory. Attacks by pets are more common. Animal bites rarely are life-threatening, but if they become infected, you can develop serious medical problems.
To prevent animal bites and complications from bites
- Never pet, handle, or feed unknown animals
- Leave snakes alone
- Watch your children closely around animals
- Vaccinate your cats, ferrets, and dogs against rabies
- Spay or neuter your dog to make it less aggressive
- Get a tetanus booster if you have not had one recently
- Wear boots and long pants when you are in areas with venomous snakes
If an animal bites you, clean the wound with soap and water as soon as possible. Get medical attention if necessary.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Bacteria are living things that have only one cell. Under a microscope, they look like balls, rods, or spirals. They are so small that a line of 1,000 could fit across a pencil eraser. Most bacteria won't hurt you - less than 1 percent of the different types make people sick. Many are helpful. Some bacteria help to digest food, destroy disease-causing cells, and give the body needed vitamins. Bacteria are also used in making healthy foods like yogurt and cheese.
But infectious bacteria can make you ill. They reproduce quickly in your body. Many give off chemicals called toxins, which can damage tissue and make you sick. Examples of bacteria that cause infections include Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and E. coli.
Antibiotics are the usual treatment. When you take antibiotics, follow the directions carefully. Each time you take antibiotics, you increase the chances that bacteria in your body will learn to resist them causing antibiotic resistance. Later, you could get or spread an infection that those antibiotics cannot cure.