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When you are out in nature or interacting directly with mice, you could be bitten and hurt. Rat bite wounds usually look like small puncture wounds that bleed and cause swelling. If the bite becomes infected, the wound may fester
Rat bite wounds most often occur on the hands or face. Children aged less than 5 years experience this occurrence more often. Rat bites usually occur in bedrooms at night and are more common in the warmer months, between April and September.
Are Rat Bites Dangerous?
The thing to watch out for from rat bite wounds is infection. This dangerous infection is known as rat bite fever. This infection can occur as a result of being bitten by an infected rat, holding an infected rat, or consuming food or drink contaminated with rat droppings.
Ratbite fever causes a rash that is flat or slightly raised, red or purple in color, and sometimes resembling bruising. There are 2 types of rat-bite fever, namely streptobacillary rat-bite fever (more common in North America) and spirillary rat-bite fever (occurring in Asia).
The early symptoms of rat bite fever are the same as the early symptoms of other infectious diseases. However, as the infection progressed, there were some differences in the symptoms of streptobacillary rat bite fever with the symptoms of spirillary rat bite fever.
Symptoms of streptobacillary rat bite
Symptoms of streptobacillary rat bite fever include:
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain or swelling
Symptoms usually appear 3–10 days after being bitten by a rat, but may appear later up to 3 weeks after the rat bite has healed. Within 2–4 days after the fever, a rash may appear on the hands and feet. This rash is red with small bumps. One or more joints then become swollen, red, or painful.
Spirillary rat bite fever symptoms
The symptoms that appear in spirillary rat bite fever are:
- Fever may come and go or occur repeatedly
- Swelling or bite wounds turn into ulcers
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Rash all over the body or just around the rat bite
Spirillary rat bite fever symptoms usually appear from 7–21 days after being bitten by a rat.
If rat bite fever is not given proper treatment, complications can occur in the form of pus formation in body cavities (including the abdominal cavity), infections of the liver, kidneys, lungs, heart, brain and nervous system. This means that rat-bite fever can be very dangerous and can be life-threatening.
First Aid for Rat Bites
Before starting to treat a rat bite, the first thing to do is to make sure you are safe from rats. If the rat that bit you is a pet and the owner is nearby, ask the owner to keep the rat safe.
To protect yourself from mice, make sure you don't scare the mice, because the mice will bite when they feel threatened.
First aid for rat bite wounds is as follows:
- Control bleeding by pressing the wound.
- Wash and clean the wound with soap and warm water.
- Cover the wound with a clean and dry bandage. You can also smear the wound with antibiotic ointment from the doctor before dressing it.
- In case of injury to the finger, remove all rings from the injured finger to avoid the ring cannot be removed if the finger swells.
If you are bitten by a rat, you should immediately consult a doctor. This is because sometimes doctors need to give tetanus immunizations. Rat bite wounds on the face and hands are locations that need further examination because of the risk of causing scar tissue and impaired movement.
You should also go to the doctor immediately if there are signs of infection in the rat bite wound, such as fever.Your doctor may give you antibiotics, such as amoxicillin, penicillin, erythromycin, or doxycycline, to treat the infection. This antibiotic can be given for 7–10 days.
In severe rat bite wounds, the doctor may give antibiotics by injection. If necessary, surgery to clean the infected wound will also be carried out by the doctor.
dr. Sonny Seputra, M.Ked.Klin, Sp.B, FINACS(Surgeon Specialist)