Guidance on animal bites updated

22 January 2019

Article: 53/0304

The evidence base regarding potential health hazards associated with animal bites has recently been reviewed and updated guidance for medical professionals and the general public has been produced.

Animal bites are not uncommon during travel and alongside the morbidity associated with injury, represent a risk of rabies, tetanus and bacterial wound infections.

The greatest number of injuries are due to bites and scratches from dogs, cats, monkeys and snakes.  Although there are no formal estimates, dog bites alone are thought to cause tens of millions of injuries annually worldwide. In the US, 4.5 million dog bites are recorded every year with 20% requiring medical care and 18% becoming infected.

Travellers should maintain a sensible distance from animals during travel, especially dogs, monkeys and cats, to avoid bites and scratches. This is particularly important with young children. Animals are most likely to bite when they feel threatened or are disturbed eating, sleeping or caring for young.

Further information and advice on yellow fever is available to view on the Travax (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.

Source: Travax, 14 January 2019