Bite and Sting Hazards
While many insect and animal encounters are harmless, any animal, even those that typically seem gentle like deer, can become dangerous if they are frightened, feel that they need to protect their young, are in the middle of their mating season, or if they are injured or ill. That being said, some of these creatures, such as ticks and mosquitos, bite because that is their very nature. However, the encounter happens, the results can be serious or even deadly to you the victim. Injured workers are often hospitalized due to:
➢ Infections: Even if a bite wound is treated immediately, the reality is that animal mouths harbor bacteria which is transferred into the bite wound. It may take several antibiotics, hospitalization, and even surgery to remove an infection.
➢ Lyme Disease: Carried by ticks, most people are aware of but don’t know seriousness. Many people are bit and never show symptoms, others are plagued with joint pain, fever, and headaches. In the worst cases, patients end up with damage to the heart, liver, and nervous system. Lyme can impact a patient for the rest of their lives.
➢ Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: This disease is also spread by ticks and symptoms include rash, fever, muscle pain, and confusion. If the disease progresses, it can damage the heart, kidneys and lungs, resulting in organ failure. Around 3% of all patients diagnosed with this disease die from the complications.
➢ Rabies: Most of us are aware that deadly rabies is spread through an animal bite. There is a vaccine, however, if a patient begins to show symptoms, the disease has already progressed too far and there is no hope. It’s very important to seek medical care immediately after all animal bites.
➢ Envenomation: Snakes & insects can inject venom which can be deadly or damage surrounding tissue at the bite.
Each year, there are about 7,000 victims in the U.S.–mostly in the summer season. Poisonous snake bites are medical emergencies. It usually takes several hours for snake venom to kill. The right antivenom (if required) and medical care can save a victim’s life. Snake bites can cause severe local tissue damage and often require follow-up care. Poisonous snakes include rattlesnakes and copperheads
Snake Bite Symptoms:
- bloody wound discharge
- blurred vision
- excessive sweating
- fang marks in the skin
- increased thirst
- localized tissue death
- loss coordination
- nausea and vomiting
- numbness and tingling
- rapid pulse
- severe localized pain
- skin discoloration
- swelling at the bite
Call Your Healthcare Provider or 911 when someone has been bitten by a snake. Time is of the essence. Get medical help immediately. If possible, call ahead to the emergency room so antivenom can be ready when the victim arrives. Identify the snake if this can be done without risk of further injury.
If Bitten Do not:
- DO NOT allow the victim to exercise.
- DO NOT apply a tourniquet.
- DO NOT apply ice to a snake bite.
- DO NOT cut into a snake bite.
- DO NOT give the victim pain medications.
- DO NOT give the victim anything by mouth.
- DO NOT raise the bite above the heart.
- DO NOT try to suction the venom
- Keep the victim calm.
- Wash the bite with soap and water.
- Remove any rings or constricting from the affected area.
- Cover the bite with a clean, cool moist compress.
- Monitor vital signs (temp, pulse, breathing, BP).
- If there are signs of shock (such as paleness), lay flat, raise the feet, & cover with a blanket.
These are just a few examples of the risks faced by construction workers who come into contact with wildlife on a regular basis. It’s important to remember that it doesn’t matter what part of the state you live in – dangerous animals live everywhere. The best way to stay safe is to educate yourself on the wildlife and insects in your area.
“Take some time to learn first aid and CPR. It saves lives, and it works.”
Bobby Sherman, Singer/Song Writer who saved a family member