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What is the absolute worst type of animal bite? Or what’s a bite that seems harmless but that could cause serious damage? I see it all the time in the Emergency room, people come in for all sorts of bites and wild animal injuries. But can one bite actually kill a person? How about a quick chomp paralyzing a patient or causing neurological damage?

It can absolutely happen if not treated right away, that’s why today we are discussing and breaking down 5 different types of animal bites and why you need to treat them or seek help urgently. It could be a matter of life or death.

1. Snake Bite

The temperatures are heating up in certain parts of the world, like here where I live in Southern California and that usually means snakes are more active. You see them when you go hiking, sometimes they find their way in your house, but no matter how you come into contact with one of these slithering serpents, it's best you don't get into a tangle with them because the results could be disastrous. For starters, most average folks are not able to easily identify which snakes are which, out there in the wild. And with that, you may not know if the snake you are locking eyeballs with is venomous or not. So if bitten by any type of snake it's a no-brainer to just use extra precaution and j get to the hospital immediately.

That being said, of course, not all snakes are venomous. Venomous snakes are capable of injecting venom by way of their bite. So let’s pretend for a sec you’re bitten by a venomous snake, which is usually apparent by the two fangs on the snake that deliver two pretty distinct puncture marks to an area of the body. Depending on what type of venomous snake you are bitten by, a person will usually begin to see symptoms immediately that then worsen over time. Realistically you need to get to the hospital as soon as you can but you absolutely want to seek medical attention within 30 minutes. Doctors, if they have it, will administer antivenom. But if a bite is left untreated, your bodily functions could break down and you may experience trouble breathing, severe tissue destruction, paralysis, organ damage, or even death.

Brown snakes for instance in Australia are highly venomous and bites can lead to rapid blood pressure drop, cessation of blood clotting, and cardiac arrest all within just minutes. Here in Southern California, I treat a lot of Rattlesnake bites, which can be fatal for about 1 in 600. Luckily we have an antivenom that can help reduce symptoms but you have to get to the hospital as quickly as you can.

Now one other thing, do not ice a snake bite. This can cause smaller blood vessels to constrict and sometimes produce dramatic tissue damage. If bitten, just focus on getting to the hospital.

2. Ticks

As someone who grew up in the North East, I'm used to having to search for ticks when coming in from wooded areas. But you would be shocked to learn all of the diseases these tiny little pin-sized creatures can carry. Now depending on where you live in the world and which tick species are native to your region, Being bit by a tick could result in a million different ailments. Things like: Anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Colorado tick fever, Lyme disease, encephalitis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness, Q fever, and more.

Now if you’re like well I have no idea what any of those things are? But they sound scary. They for sure are. These diseases trigger rashes and fever, fatigue, pain, skin ulcers, and neurologic problems, some very severe and some that endure for years. With Lyme disease specifically is more common in the US. I have treated patients who couldn't walk, who had heart problems, and more with later stages of Lyme disease, it’s no joke.

So, If you have a tick bite watch for an expanding red rash or lesion at the site of the tick bite or an unexplained feverish, achy, fatiguing illness within 1 to 4 weeks after the tick bite. If you are concerned, you could even take a picture of the rash and contact your physician. A lot of these have very distinctive patterns, for instance, a bullseye rash pattern could show up.

If you think you are bitten don’t just brush the experience off either, like eh it's just another bite. In areas that are highly endemic to Lyme disease, for instance, a single prophylactic dose of doxycycline may be used to reduce the risk of acquiring Lyme disease.

3. American Alligator

Maybe you’re heading to the South this year to do a little vacationing or heck maybe you even live there. I know I've certainly seen them when I used to live in North Carolina back in college, but an alligator's bite can be extremely serious and life-threatening. I mean talk about a force that could kill something or at least do some serious damage. The bite of an alligator is strong. We’re talking a psi of 2,900 LBS strong or enough to crack a turtle’s shell. So just imagine what it could do to say human skin or an animal’s skin. And not to mention they have 80 sharp teeth to go along with that to easily tear things into pieces.

If you are the unlucky one who gets gnawed on by an alligator we usually treat it as major trauma. I know it may seem obvious with major lacerations and flesh missing, heck possibly even fingers or limbs missing, but even if you didn't lose any of your digits. It’s also important to realize that one could also be at high risk for a soft tissue infection because of the microorganisms that can be transferred from gators.

If you are wondering about the crocodile’s bite, similarly if you find yourself in a run-in with a crocodile and make it out of there, definitely get to the hospital. But the kicker is the force of their bite is said to be even stronger than the gator, so it’s best you just steer clear of these saltwater beasts altogether.

4. The Mosquito

It’s time for the deadliest animal on the list, Their bite alone is responsible for the deaths of more than 400,000 people every year.

I know what you are thinking, a mosquito? Really? But it's true, these little bugs and their bites can mean deadly consequences if not treated accurately. So let’s break this down further shall we?

It’s very rare that you actually feel a mosquito bite you. That’s because the mosquito injects saliva that prevents clotting and numbs the area so you don't usually feel the bite, allowing the mosquito to feed on your blood undisturbed.

And a mosquito’s little pesky bite can transmit a smorgasbord of dangerous diseases to humans. Things like: Malaria, chikungunya, dengue, yellow fever, encephalitis, and Zika Virus. The list goes on. As I said at the beginning of this, more than 400,000 people die every year from malaria alone.

So when to go to the hospital? Anyone bitten by a mosquito who then experiences nausea, fever, swollen lymph nodes, a rash, or a prolonged headache should visit the emergency room. Hospitals will try to figure out which mosquito-borne disease you may be suffering from and offer supportive therapies.

For full disclosure, not every mosquito out there carries some sort of killer disease but you should definitely be on high alert, especially when traveling somewhere new that is known to have these infected mosquitos or high instances of these diseases. For instance, some places in South America, are on higher alerts for Zika Virus and encourage travelers to Practice Enhanced Precautions. Similarly, the highest transmission of malaria is found in Africa, South of the Sahara.

Now if your mosquito bite isn't that serious, just super itchy and annoying, try washing the area with soap and water then ice it a bit. You can even use a mix of baking soda and water on it or any over-the-counter anti-itch cream. People also say honey and aloe vera work. If you want me to do another video on all the most dangerous bug bites in the world of spiders. let me know because I could do a whole video just on bugs and just spider bites alone.

5. Shark

I’ll start with the good news about shark bites. The odds of being killed by a shark are about 1 in 3 or 4 million. In fact, you have a much higher chance of dying from a selfie-related accident than a shark attack but shark bites can be extremely serious and even fatal.

Also, the necessary medical treatment depends on the severity of the shark bite and even what kind of shark the biting will also factor into that. A great white shark for instance has a much more violent bite than say a nurse shark. But regardless of who or what bit you, it's imperative that you get to safety first, so in other words, get out of the water and try to stop the bleeding.

It’s super important to restrict the blood flow, a lot of times that means keeping a wet suit for instance on, it kind of keeps things intact as much as possible and stops a person from bleeding out. And if I didn’t say it already, get to the hospital or seek out medical help as soon as humanly possible.

Now at the hospital obviously the treatment will depend on the severity of the bite but typically we may take a patient quickly to the operating room, remove any dead tissue, course, control bleeding, and clean the wound thoroughly.

Lastly, just some minor shark encounter details to keep in mind. Sharks are attracted to high-contrast colors, and a lot of divers use the phrase “yum yum yellow” for instance talking about sharks’ attraction to certain high-contrast colors. So keep that in mind if you’re out surfing. And if you really have to fend for yourself, gills and eyes are very sensitive. But of course, that's only to be used if you are truly in an emergent situation where you have to go head to head with a shark. Luckily most of us will never have that experience but if you know someone who’s ever had a run-in with a shark let me know in the comments.


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