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A bite is a wound received from the mouth (and in particular, the teeth) of an animal, including humans. Animals may bite in self-defense, in an attempt to predate food, as well as part of normal interactions. Other bite attacks may be apparently unprovoked. Self inflicted bites occur in some genetic illnesses such as Lesch-Nyhan syndrome.

Biting is an act that occurs when an animal uses its teeth to pierce another object, including food, flesh and inanimate matter.


Bites are usually classified by the type of creature causing the wound.Many different creatures are known to bite humans.
  • Flea bites are responsible for the transmission of bubonic plague.
  • Mosquito bites are responsible for the transmission of malaria.
  • The bites of various animals such as bats, rabbits, wolves, raccoons, etc. may transmit rabies.
  • Infections other than rabies are also common from bite wounds
Rabies is a deadly disease.

Signs and symptoms

Bite wounds raise a number of medical concerns for the physician or first aider including:


Bite wounds are washed, ideally with povidone-iodine soap and water. The injury is then loosely bandaged, but is not sutured due to risk of infection.


Antibiotics prophylaxis is recommended for dog and cat bites of the hand and human bites if they are more than superficial. Evidence for the need for antibiotic prophylaxis for bites in other areas inconclusive.

For empirical therapy, the first choice is amoxicillin with clavulanic acid, and if the person is penicillin allergy doxycycline and metronidazole. The anti-staphylococcal penicillins (e.g., cloxacillin, nafcillin, flucloxacillin) and the macrolides (e.g., erythromycin, clarithromycin) are not used for empirical therapy, because they do not cover Pasteurella species.


Animal bites inflicted by some animals, including carnivorans and bats can transmit rabies. The animal is caught alive or dead with its head preserved, so the head can later be analyzed to detect the disease. Signs of rabies include foaming at the mouth, self-mutilation, growling, jerky behavior, and red eyes. If the animal lives for ten days and does not develop rabies, then it is probable that no infection has occurred.

If the animal cannot be captured, prophylactic rabies treatment is recommended in most places. Certain places, such as Hawaiimarker, Australia and the United Kingdommarker, are known not to have native rabies. Treatment is generally available in North America and the Northern European states.

Mosquito bites

Antihistamines are effective treatment for the symptoms from bites. Many diseases such as malaria are transmitted by mosquitoes.


Biting is an age appropriate behavior and reaction for children 2.5 years and younger. Conversely children above this age have verbal skills to explain their needs and dislikes and biting is not age appropriate. Biting may be prevented by methods including redirection, changing the environment and responding to biting by talking about appropriate ways to express anger and frustration. School age children, those older than 2.5 years, who habitually bite may require professional help.

Biting is also a behavior found in many adult animals (including humans), often as part of sexual petting. Some discussion of human biting appears in The Kinsey Report on Sexual Behavior in the Human Female.

See also


  1. Child Care Links, " How to Handle Biting", retrieved 14 August 2007

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