After a Dog Bite: Know Your Infection Risk
Although wounds from dog bites can be troubling, the real risk of personal injury comes from the threat of infections. Read on for more information about infection risks from dog bites and how personal injury attorneys can help bog bite victims.
Common Infections From Dog Bites
When an individual suffers personal injury from a dog bite, there are many different types of infections that the bite victim may contract. A rare but serious type of infection that may result from a dog bite attack is rabies, a virus that attacks a person’s central nervous system. The mortality rate of rabies is the highest of any known disease in the world, with 99.9% of cases proving fatal.
Symptoms of rabies are mild at first and include low-grade fevers, headaches, fatigue, and muscle weakness. As the disease progresses, symptoms will become more intense and can include insomnia, nausea/vomiting, anxiety, confusion, partial paralysis, hyperactivity, hallucinations, and hydrophobia (fear of water).
Another type of infections that can result from a dog bite attack are staph and strep infections. Caused by the staphylococcus (staph) or streptococcus (strep) bacteria, common symptoms of these infections include oozing blisters, sudden onset of boils, swelling of joints, and prolonged fevers.
A third type of possible infection resulting from a dog bite is cellulitis. Cellulitis is contracted from the Pasteurella multocida and pasteruella canis bacteria that live in the mouths of many different breeds of dog. When these bacteria are passed into the bloodstream of a human after a dog bite, it can cause initial redness, swelling, tenderness, and pus discharge from the wound. If left untreated, symptoms can worsen quickly and include infection of the joints, bones, and tendons, fatigue, loss of sensation, pneumonia, eye infections, urinary tract infections, meningitis, and blood infections.
Essential Steps to Treating a Dog Bite
Although seeking medical attention is a necessary course of action, there are some steps that victims of dog bites can take at the scene of the attack to reduce the risk of infection and other serious complications. According to information provided by the Cleveland Clinic, a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center, dog bite victims should take the following steps immediately after being bitten:
- Wash the wound. Using a mild soap and warm tap water, wash the wound and run the water over it for five to ten minutes. Take care to be gentle when washing, as overly aggressive rubbing can actually exacerbate the severity of the wound.
- Slow the bleeding using a clean cloth. Apply gentle but firm pressure to the wound area in order to slow the bleeding. Avoid excessive force when compressing the wound area.
- Apply an over-the-counter antibiotic cream or gel. These materials are often included as part of a generic first aid kit and can serve as the first line of defense against infections caused by dog bite attacks.
- Wrap the wound. Using a sterile bandage, wrap the wound tight enough to slow blood flow, but take care not to wrap too tightly. An overly tight bandage can cut off circulation to the affected area and cause further complications.
- Contact a medical professional. Once the wound has been cleaned and bandaged, it is time to contact your local doctor or urgent care facility to schedule an appointment.
- Monitor the wound and surrounding area for signs of infection. Common signs that a dog bite wound is becoming infected include redness, swelling, increased pain and sensitivity, and fever. If you experience any of these symptoms at any point in time after a dog bite attack, contact your doctor immediately.