It is estimated that 2 to 5 million animal bites occur in the United States each year, and 85 to 90 percent of animal bites are dog bites. Cat bites comprise up to 10 percent of bites each year, while rodent bites make up to 3 percent. The majority of animal bite victims are children.
Whenever certain animals bite, it is possible for the victim to be exposed to rabies. However, skin infection, not rabies, is the most common animal bite complication. A bite may cause serious skin, bone or joint injuries, and hand injuries are often the most serious, as bones and joints in the hand are located close to the skin.
Dogs tend to cause wounds near the head and neck in children, as these areas may be closer to the dog when they are attacked. Cats generally bite or scratch the face, arms and hands of victims. When a cat bites, it may leave a puncture mark through which bacteria can come into contact with the skin. Squirrels, rabbits and guinea pigs may bite in a manner similar to cats. Rodent bites generally come from rats and are most commonly seen in children 5 years of age or younger.
If bitten by an animal, it may be a good idea to visit a hospital or urgent care facility. In as little as 12 hours, an infection could spread and cause serious injuries. Those who have been bitten by a cat, dog or any other pet may wish to file a personal injury lawsuit against its owner. An attorney may be able to help a victim win compensation for medical bills as well as any emotional trauma that the bite may have caused.
Source: UpToDate, “Patient information: Animal bites (Beyond the Basics)“, Larry M Baddour and Erin E Endom, September 23, 2014