Because of the prevalence of rabies in most parts of the world – the exceptions are the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Norway, Finland and Sweden – a skin-penetrating bite or scratch from a dog, cat or any domestic or wild animal is a serious matter warranting medical attention as soon as possible. First aid involves washing the wound with plenty of soap and water, or holding it under clean running water – in both cases for at least five minutes – andthen dabbing it liberally with alcohol. If it can be done without endangering anyone, the animal should be prevented from escaping so that it can be examined for signs of rabies.

If you have been bitten by an animal and are in a region where rabies is prevalent, you will usually be given a course of three injections to provide immunity to the disease. Vigorous cleansing of the wound, together with immunization following the bite, greatly reduce the risk of developing rabies. You should also check on whether you need to have a course of tetanus injections. If you are certain you are not at risk of rabies (in a

Acountry where rabies has been eliminated, for example) you should treat the bite as you would treat any dirty wound. Most animal bites are best treated by a doctor, but it is especially important to seek medical attention if the bite is deep or becomes infected in spite of your careful attempts at cleansing. Human bites should be dealt with as for animal bites, and should not be taken any less seriously. Many different types of insect and spider are capable of giving a bite or sting, but those that cause the most trouble are bees, wasps and mosquitoes. Stings from bees and wasps can be very painful. In the case of a bee sting, the poison sac may be left embedded in the skin and should be removed. To alleviate the local symptoms of the insect-venom, one should neutralize the poison. In the case of a bee sting, in which acid poison is injected, a cloth soaked in diluted ammonia should be applied to the skin. A wasp sting should be neutralized by an acid, however, such as a vinegar or lemon juice.

It is extremely rare for a person to die from bee stings. A death has been reported following just 30 stings; on the other hand, a person has been reported to have survived after receiving over 2,000. However, a single bee sting may be fatal if the casualty is hypersensitive to the venom, or if he or she has anaphylaxis. This produces a general allergic reaction to the sting that probably follows increasingly severe reactions to previous stings. The person generally feels dizzy, flushed and faint within minutes of the sting, eventually becoming unconscious. Medical attention should be sought very urgently. If someone is known to be allergic to the venom of one or another insect, it «- 0.5 sec v may be medically advisable to keep a special emergency kid handy, containing adrenaline and antihistamines.

Instructions for injection of these drugs will be given by the doctor who prescribed them. Irritation from mosquito bites can often be relieved by applying antihistamine cream, or, if there is a severe reaction to many bites, with antihistamine tablets.