A rat bite can occur if a rat is frightened or handled. As a preventive measure, the ideal thing to do is to stay away if a rat is nearby. Do not approach a wild rat and if it is a pet, inform the owner.
What happens if I end up with a rat bite?
If an individual ends up with a rat bite, the main issue is the risk for infection. One specific type of infection is the rat-bite fever that is acquired after being bit or scratched by a rat.
The signs of rat-bite fever typically arise 3-10 days after being bit but can be delayed for up to 3 weeks. Luckily, the condition can be treated effectively with antibiotics. If left untreated, rat-bite fever can be deadly.
How to manage a rat bite
There are several measures that can be done when dealing with a rat bite such as:
- If bleeding is present, control it by placing pressure. Once the bleeding stops, cleanse the site using warm water and soap. Make sure that all soap must be thoroughly rinsed since it can trigger irritation later.
- The rat bite wound must be covered with a clean dry dressing. Apply an antibiotic ointment on the wound before it is covered. Remember that a rat bite often results to an infection. In case the finger is affected, rings must be removed before swelling occurs. The signs of infection include swelling, redness, warmth and drainage of pus.
- A doctor should be consulted since a tetanus shot or stitches might be required.
- If the rat bite occurs on the hands or face, it requires further assessment by a doctor due to the potential for scarring or loss of function.
- When caring for a rat bite wound, it is vital to observe universal precautions and utilize protective equipment if on hand.
More Information / Disclaimer
The information posted on this page on a rat bite is for learning purposes only. Learn to properly manage a rat bite by taking a standard first aid course with Vancouver First Aid.