If your child is bitten, your instinct might be to try to stop the spread of the venom. In the case of a snakebite, it’s important not to use a tourniquet and cut off blood flow. This can worsen the effect of venom.
According to the WHO, “worldwide, up to five million people are bitten by snakes every year. Of these, poisonous (envenoming) snakes cause considerable morbidity and mortality.” Most snake bites occur in Africa and Asia and among people living in rural or agricultural environments.
Most of our patients here at GHT are at low risk of suffering from a snakebite, but it’s always a good idea to be watchful in your environment.
- Avoiding tall grassy areas
- Wear protective shoes
- Rid your home of rodents
- Keep your home clear of hiding places for snakes (wood piles, piles of brush, trash)
- Be alert and observant in environments frequented by snakes.
Dog bites account for tens of millions of injuries annually. The highest risk of dog bites is among children. Teach your children good dog etiquette. Never leave a child unattended around an unfamiliar dog. Avoid stray dogs. Ask a dog’s owner before petting them.
Teach your child what certain cues may mean in dogs. For example, if a dog is growling and their lips are pulled back, we should stay away. If a dog has its tail between its legs and looks scared, we should stay away. If the owner says the dog is friendly and the dog is wagging their tail, we can let them sniff our hands before we try to gently pet them.
Treatment of dog bites:
- Cleansing of wound
- Rabies treatment (series of rabies vaccines)
- Tetanus vaccine
Cat bites are lower in incidence than dog bites, though otherwise, the two are very similar. Treatment of cat bites is the same as with dog bites.
Vaccines are not available for all insect-borne diseases, including mosquito, tick, and fly-borne diseases. The CDC recommends using products containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, PMD, IR3535, or 2-undecanoate in order to repel insects. While DEET and picaridin are both synthetic pesticides associated with some safety concerns, the others listed are biopesticides that are derived from natural materials. Repel, Off! Botanicals, Skin So Soft Bug Guard, Skin Smart, and Bio UD all carry products using biopesticides. We also like to use DoTERRA’s TerraShield essential oil blend to repel insects.
These products often offer 1-2 hours of protection, so stock up before traveling or spending extended periods of time outdoors during the warmer months. In addition, consider using a permethrin repellent for your clothing and gear. Never apply permethrin to the skin and only to clothing and gear.
- Always read all product labels carefully.
- Apply only to exposed skin or clothing, and never on skin protected by clothing.
- Do not use it on cuts, wounds, rashes, or irritated skin.
- Do not spray the repellent directly on the face. Spray onto hands first and then apply on the face. Adults should use this method for applying repellent to children.
- Wash hands after application. Do not apply to the eyes or mouth.
- After use, wash repellent-treated skin with soap and water, or bathe. Wash permethrin-treated clothing before wearing it again.
- If you experience a rash or reaction to a repellent, wash off the product immediately. Try a different repellent.
- For severe reactions, call your local poison control center. If you need to visit the local urgent care or emergency department for a reaction, always bring the product with you to show the medical staff.
Rabies is a significant health concern following dog bites, cat bites, and wild animal bites. The WHO estimates that 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year, including 10-20 fatalities in the US per year.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that “rabies is a virus commonly found in wild animals in the U.S., especially in bats, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and foxes. The virus can be transmitted in the saliva of a rabid animal to a person through a bite or open wound. Worldwide, approximately 55,000 people die each year of rabies, and nearly half are children.”
Symptoms of rabies:
- Flu-like symptoms (weakness, fever, headache)
- Prickling or itching of the bite site
The CDC reports, “Once a person begins to exhibit signs of the disease, survival is rare.” If you suspect that your child has been bitten by an animal infected with rabies, it is absolutely necessary that you seek immediate medical attention.
Be respectful of animals and wildlife.
Be careful to dispose of trash in the correct bins. Protect yourself with clothing and repellent, if necessary. We recommend diluting DoTERRA’s Terrashield and rubbing on the skin, or diffusing it. Be respectful of your environment and the living things around you. Remain calm and make slow deliberate movements in the presence of animals. Educate yourself and your children about the animals common in your region.
Finally, there is no need to touch wild, or even domesticated, animals. We, humans, have this need to grasp things in our hands to learn about them or to feel connected to them, but touching other species can be scary and threatening for them. Be mindful of other creatures and their space.