Human and Other Animal Bites
Human or other land animal bites may cause
lacerations or bruises. In addition to damaging tissue, human or bites from animals
such as dogs, cats, bats, raccoons, or rats always present the possibility of
a. Human Bites. Human bites that break the skin may become
seriously infected since the mouth is heavily contaminated with bacteria. All
human bites MUST be treated by medical personnel.
b. Animal Bites.
Land animal bites can result in both infection and disease. Tetanus, rabies, and
various types of fevers can follow an untreated animal bite. Because of these
possible complications, the animal causing the bite should, if possible, be captured
or killed (without damaging its head) so that competent authorities can identify
and test the animal to determine if it is carrying diseases.
c. First Aid.
Cleanse the wound thoroughly with soap or detergent solution.
(2) Flush it
well with water.
(3) Cover it with a sterile dressing.
(4) Immobilize an
injured arm or leg.
(5) Transport the casualty immediately to a medical treatment
unable to capture or kill the animal, provide medical personnel with any information
possible that will help identify it. Information of this type will aid in appropriate
Marine (Sea) Animals
With the exception of sharks and barracuda, most marine
animals will not deliberately attack. The most frequent injuries from marine animals
are wounds by biting, stinging, or puncturing. Wounds inflicted by marine animals
can be very painful, but are rarely fatal.
a. Sharks, Barracuda, and Alligators.
Wounds from these marine animals can involve major trauma as a result of bites
and lacerations. Bites from large marine animals are potentially the most life
threatening of all injuries from marine animals. Major wounds from these animals
can be treated by controlling the bleeding, preventing shock, giving basic life
support, splinting the injury, and by securing prompt medical aid.
Moray Eels, and Corals. These animals normally inflict minor wounds. Treat
by cleansing the wound(s) thoroughly and by splinting if necessary.
Portuguese men-of-war, Anemones, and Others. This group of marine animals
inflict injury by means of stinging cells in their tentacles. Contact with the
tentacles produces burning pain with a rash and small hemorrhages on the skin.
Shock, muscular cramping, nausea, vomiting, and respiratory distress may also
occur. Gently remove the clinging tentacles with a towel and wash or treat the
area. Use diluted ammonia or alcohol, meat tenderizer, and talcum powder. If symptoms
become severe or persist, seek medical aid.
d. Spiny Fish, Urchins, Stingrays,
and Cone Shells. These animals inject their venom by puncturing with their
spines. General signs and symptoms include swelling, nausea, vomiting, generalized
cramps, diarrhea, muscular paralysis, and shock. Deaths are rare. Treatment consists
of soaking the wounds in hot water (when available) for 30 to 60 minutes. This
inactivates the heat sensitive toxin. In addition, further first aid measures
(controlling bleeding, applying a dressing, and so forth) should be carried out
careful not to scald the casualty with water that is too hot because the pain
of the wound will mask the normal reaction to heat.
An insect bite or sting can cause great pain, allergic
reaction, inflammation, and infection. If not treated correctly, some bites/stings
may cause serious illness or even death. When an allergic reaction is not involved,
first aid is a simple process. In any case, medical personnel should examine the
casualty at the earliest possible time. It is important to properly identify the
spider, bee, or creature that caused the bite/sting, especially in cases of allergic
reaction when death is a possibility.
a. Types of Insects. The insects
found throughout the world that can produce a bite or sting are too numerous to
mention in detail. Commonly encountered stinging or biting insects include brown
recluse spiders (Figure 6-9), black widow spiders (Figure 6-10), tarantulas (Figure
6-11), scorpions (Figure 6-12), urticating caterpillars, bees, wasps, centipedes,
cone-nose beetles (kissing bugs), ants, and wheel bugs. Upon being reassigned,
especially to overseas areas, take the time to become acquainted with the types
of insects to avoid.
Signs/Symptoms. Discussed in paragraphs (1) and (2) below are the most common
effects of insect bites/stings. They can occur alone or in combination with the
(1) Less serious. Commonly seen signs/symptoms are pain, irritation,
swelling, heat, redness, and itching. Hives or wheals (raised areas of the skin
that itch) may occur. These are the least severe of the allergic reactions that
commonly occur from insect bites/stings. They are usually dangerous only if they
affect the air passages (mouth, throat, nose, and so forth), which could interfere
with breathing. The bites/stings of bees, wasps, ants, mosquitoes, fleas, and
ticks are usually not serious and normally produce mild and localized symptoms.
A tarantulaís bite is usually no worse than that of a bee sting. Scorpions
are rare and their stings (except for a specific species found only in the Southwest
desert) are painful but usually not dangerous.
(2) Serious. Emergency
allergic or hypersensitive reactions sometimes result from the stings of bees,
wasps, and ants. Many people are allergic to the venom of these particular
insects. Bites or stings from these insects may produce more serious reactions,
to include generalized itching and hives, weakness, anxiety, headache, breathing
difficulties, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Very serious allergic reactions
(called anaphylactic shock) can lead to complete collapse, shock, and even death.
Spider bites (particularly from the black widow and brown recluse spiders)
can be serious also. Venom from the black widow spider affects the nervous system.
This venom can cause muscle cramps, a rigid, non-tender abdomen, breathing difficulties,
sweating, nausea and vomiting. The brown recluse spider generally produces local
rather than system-wide problems; however, local tissue damage around the bite
can be severe and can lead to an ulcer and even gangrene.
c. First Aid.
There are certain principles that apply regardless of what caused the bite/sting.
Some of these are:
If there is a stinger present, for example, from
a bee, remove the stinger by scraping the skinís surface with a fingernail or
knife. DO NOT squeeze the sac attached to the stinger because it may inject more
Wash the area of the bite/sting with soap and water (alcohol
or an antiseptic may also be used) to help reduce the chances of an infection
and remove traces of venom.
Remove jewelry from bitten extremities because
swelling is common and may occur.
In most cases of insect bites the
reaction will be mild and localized use ice or cold compresses (if available)
on the site of the bite/sting. This will help reduce swelling, ease the pain,
and slow the absorption of venom. Meat tenderizer (to neutralize the venom) or
calamine lotion (to reduce itching) may be applied locally. If necessary, seek
In more serious reactions (severe and rapid swelling, allergic
symptoms, and so forth) treat the bite/sting like you would treat a snakebite;
that is, apply constricting bands above and below the site. See paragraph 6-2c(1)
above for details and illustration (Figure 6-8) of a constricting band.
Be prepared to perform basic lifesaving measures, such as rescue breathing.
Reassure the casualty and keep him calm. In serious reactions, attempt
to capture the insect for positive identification; however, be careful not to
become a casualty yourself.
If the reaction or symptoms appear serious,
seek medical aid immediately.
Insect bites/stings may cause anaphylactic shock (a shock caused
by a severe allergic reaction). This is a life-threatening event and a
MEDICAL EMERGENCY! Be prepared to immediately transport the casualty to
a medical facility.
aware that some allergic or hypersensitive individuals may carry identification
(such as a MEDIC ALERT tag) or emergency insect bite treatment kits. If the casualty
is having an allergic reaction and has such a kit, administer the medication in
the kit according to the instructions which accompany the kit.
Prevention. Some prevention principles are:
Apply insect repellent
to all exposed skin, such as the ankles to prevent insects from creeping between
uniform and boots. Also apply the insect repellent to the shoulder blades where
the shirt fits tight enough that mosquitoes bite through. DO NOT apply insect
repellent to the eyes.
Reapply repellent, every 2 hours during strenuous
activity and soon after stream crossings.
Blouse the uniform inside
the boots to further reduce risk.
Wash yourself daily if the tactical
situation permits. Pay particular attention to the groin and armpits.
Use the buddy system. Check each other for insect bites.
Wash your uniform
at least weekly.
e. Supplemental Information. For additional information
concerning insect bites, see FM 8-230 and FM 21-10.
See Table 6-1 for information on bites and stings.