Dogs are known to be man's best friends, but when it comes to suspected rabid dogs, the situation can quickly become dangerous. Rabies is a viral infection that is usually transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, and if left untreated, it can be fatal. A bite from a suspected rabid dog requires immediate attention, as the disease can progress rapidly within days or weeks.
In this quick action guide, we will outline what steps you should take immediately after being bitten by a suspected rabid dog. From cleaning and disinfecting the wound to seeking medical attention and reporting the incident to authorities, we will provide you with practical advice on how to protect yourself against this deadly virus.
1. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water
When bitten by a suspected rabid dog, it is important to wash the wound thoroughly with soap and running water for at least 15 minutes. This will help remove any saliva or other potential contaminants from the bite area. It's essential to treat the wound as soon as possible so that the virus does not enter your bloodstream.
2. Apply an antiseptic solution or iodine
Applying an antiseptic solution helps cleanse the area and prevent the growth of bacteria, reducing the chance of infection. Antiseptics such as hydrogen peroxide or povidone-iodine can be used for this purpose.
3. Control bleeding by tying a clean cloth or bandage
In cases of very severe category III bites quickly locate a bandage, a clean cloth, or any other available fabric and tie it firmly around the wound to exert pressure and stem the bleeding. This immediate action can help minimize blood loss and reduce the risk of infection as you get the patient to the hospital. But in other categories, I and II bites, leave the wound clean and open.
4. Seek immediate medical attention
It’s important to visit the nearest healthcare facility, where medical professionals can assess the severity of the bite, clean the wound further, and administer necessary treatments, the most important is the anti-rabies vaccine or post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) supported by other treatments such as a tetanus shot and antibiotics for any infection. Time is of the essence, you have a window of only 48-72 hours before the virus penetrates the nerves and protects itself from treatment measures, as early medical intervention significantly increases the chances of survival and prevents the onset of this potentially deadly disease. The complete anti-rabies vaccine is given on days 0.3.7.14 and (21/28) depending on the treatment regime in your hospital.
5. Share accurate information about the dog
Identify the owner or person responsible for the dog and obtain their contact information if possible. Recognizing the dog that bit you can help the animal control or local health authorities immediately capture and test it for rabies. Also, enable them to do contact tracing of any other humans or animals it has bitten or come into contact with in the area.
6. Monitor for symptoms of rabies such as fever, headache, muscle weakness or spasms, and confusion.
Rabies is 100% fatal but it is also 100% treatable and preventable. Where treatment was delayed or not given it is important to monitor yourself for symptoms of rabies. If you develop symptoms such as fever or headache within two weeks after being bitten, seek medical attention immediately. Once one presents with symptoms of rabies they are going to die. Therefore, the essence of early treatment for, a better chance of survival.
7. Follow up and adhere to treatment recommendations:
Ensure that you follow your doctor’s recommendations for treatment, which is most important to ensure you get the anti-rabies vaccine post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for rabies prevention inclusive of receiving a tetanus shot, and antibiotics to prevent infection. Adhering to the prescribed treatment regimen is vital to ensure the best possible outcome, as rabies is a serious and potentially fatal disease if left untreated.
Being bitten by a suspected rabid dog can be a terrifying experience, but it's essential to remain calm and take immediate action. Do not delay seeking treatment. Remember to always approach dogs with caution and respect their space. By taking these steps, you can protect yourself from the potentially deadly consequences of a rabies infection. Stay safe and stay aware!