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Jason R. Schultz P.C

Contracting a Dog Bite Infection like Rabies or Other Diseases

When a dog has bitten someone, even if it appears to be nothing more than a scratch, it’s important to get checked by a doctor. When the dog breaks the skin, bacteria and other pathogens can enter, allowing the person to contract rabies or another type of serious disease. Dog bite infections can be very serious and require prompt medical treatment.

Contracting Rabies from a Dog Bite

Rabies is one of the most serious viruses that a human can contract from an animal. Although it tends to affect wildlife the most, even domesticated animals –such as cats and dogs – can be rabid. Therefore, if an unvaccinated dog bites someone, that individual may be at risk of contracting the disease.

The virus can spread into nearby muscle and eventually to the brain, causing inflammation. If infected, symptoms usually appear several weeks to several months after infection. Once symptoms begin, the disease is almost always fatal. This is why it’s critical to seek treatment immediately if bitten.

Some of the symptoms of rabies in people include:

  • fever;
  • irritability;
  • drooling;
  • difficulty swallowing;
  • seizures;
  • aggressiveness;
  • pain at the site of the wound;
  • spasms; and
  • tingling sensation or numbness.

To determine if someone has rabies, doctors may perform a spinal tap and collect saliva to examine spinal fluid and saliva, or perform a special test using a piece of skin from the neck. This is a neck biopsy and entails the removal of 5-6 mm in diameter of skin from the hairline. Needless to say, getting tested before a skin sample is required is the best option.

Doctors may administer a series of vaccinations over a period of time if you are thought at risk of rabies. The doctor may also administer shots of human rabies immunoglobulin the same day as the bite for more immediate protection.

Other Dog Bite Infections

There are other diseases a dog bite victim should be concerned about contracting. Tetanus, for example, is another life-threatening infection. Bite victims may receive a tetanus vaccination if unsure about when this shot was last administered or if it’s been longer than five years.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is another infection that victims might contract from a dog bite. Fever is one sign of MRSA, and the infected area could appear swollen and red and feel warm to the touch.

MRSA is resistant to many antibiotics, and it may not improve with an initial antibiotic dose. The doctor may drain the infected area and more severe infections may require long-term antibiotic use.

Streptococcal infections are also possible from a dog bite. The skin around the bite may appear red and swollen. In severe cases, especially if not properly treated, the infection can cause blood infection. Common treatment includes antibiotics.

Pasteurellosis symptoms may appear shortly after the bite:

  • redness;
  • swelling; and
  • pain.

Medical attention is critical, as this can spread into other parts of the body and cause infection affecting the joints or ears.

Although rare, some dog bites can lead to capnocytophaga. What makes this especially concerning is that even a tiny mark made by a bite could appear to require no special medical attention. Yet it can cause blood infection in immunocompromised people.

Those with capnocytophaga may experience:

  • headache;
  • nausea;
  • muscle aches; and
  • red patches.

Legal Help if Bitten by a Dog

Whether its rabies or any one of the aforementioned diseases, a dog bite victim could be at serious risk. This is why seeking medical attention as quickly as possible is so important. But also important is contacting an attorney to discuss filing a claim against the dog owner to recoup losses and expenses related to the dog bite and infection. Call Jason R. Schultz at (404) 474-0804 to set up a consultation.


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