Dog Bite Infections: Rabies, Cellulitis & More
Dog bite infections can be minor or deadly, depending on the type of infection and how quickly you received treatment. Below, we detail a few common infections that result from dog bites, what you can expect from the infection, and the treatment required.
What Kinds of Complications or Infections Can I Face After a Dog Bite?
You can get any one of several viral or bacterial infections after a dog bite. These include:
Rabies, a viral infection, can be fatal. Rabies is preventable, thanks to a rabies vaccine. If you have not received a rabies vaccine and the dog that bit you might be infected, you will need three shots:
- A post-exposure anti-rabies vaccination
- A human rabies immune globulin (HRIG)
- A tetanus shot, unless you have had one in the last ten years
It is critical that you get medical attention at once. If left untreated, rabies is often fatal within days of the onset of symptoms. The initial symptoms are fever, headache, weakness, and general discomfort. These symptoms can keep you out of work for days and the treatment can leave you with extensive medical bills.
Cellulitis is a common bacterial skin infection. While it usually affects only the skin’s surface, it can spread to your lymph nodes and bloodstream, or enter the fascial lining, a deep layer of tissue. Deep layer infections, such as flesh-eating strep, are extreme medical emergencies.
Cellulitis is the result of streptococcus, staphylococcus, or other bacteria entering your tissue through a crack on the surface of your skin. If your dog bite wound is swollen, painful, red, and warm to the touch, you may have developed cellulitis. Catch it early and get prompt medical attention before it spreads through your body.
One common type of staphylococcus bacteria is MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
Staph infections like MRSA can cause sepsis (an infection complication that is often life-threatening), pneumonia, and infections of the bloodstream. These complications can be fatal; at the very least, they can lead to astronomical medical bills and keep you out of work for weeks.
Flesh-eating bacterial infections can require amputation.
Pasteurellosis is a bacterial infection of soft tissue following a bite or scratch from a dog or cat whose mouth contained Pasteurella bacteria. This bacterium, typically found in the mouths of healthy dogs and cats, is also called “cat scratch disease.” Pasteurellosis accounts for half of all dog bite infections. The disease is painful and can damage the nervous system.
It can also cause a soft tissue infection, meningitis, ocular infections, or respiratory infections. Treatment can have hefty costs attached and keep you out of work.
Capnocytophaga is another infection caused by bacteria that usually inhabit the mouths of healthy dogs. This disease is rare, as the bacteria usually only sicken people with weakened immune systems.
To treat capnocytophaga, you will need antibiotics.
Tetanus results from the bacterium Clostridium tetani. This type of bacteria can enter your body through a cut, scrape, bite, or other skin surface disruption. Tetanus has the nickname “lockjaw” because the infection can clamp the neck and jaw muscles, preventing you from swallowing or opening your mouth. The tetani bacteria produce a poison that makes your muscles contract painfully.
Medical experts recommend having a tetanus vaccine at least once every 10 years to prevent tetanus. If you have muscle spasms (frequently abdominal), muscle pain and stiffness throughout your body, cramps in your jaw, difficulty swallowing, seizures, fast heart rate, headaches, or fever following a dog bite, get immediate medical attention. Tetanus is fatal in 10 to 20 percent of cases.
How Can I Avoid an Infection From a Dog Bite?
There are various ways to avoid infection after a dog bite:
- Always get prompt medical attention for every dog bite.
- Let the doctors determine what care is necessary, and whether rabies or tetanus are concerns.
- Keep your wound clean.
- Protect it from dirt and contamination by using a sterile dressing and antibiotic cream.
- Follow the instructions from your health care professionals.
- Seek follow-up medical care as soon as any symptoms develop or worsen, or if the wound is not healing.
- If you have any changes in how you are feeling, such as weakness, headache, lethargy, fever, or increased heart rate, get medical help right away.
Can I Recover Compensation for a Dog Bite Infection?
Yes. In addition to the original medical bills and other initial damages from the bite itself, you can get compensation for the complications from dog bite infections. Compensation for a dog bite can include medical bills (current and future), lost wages, emotional damages, disfigurement, pain and suffering, and wrongful death.
Get Help From Jason R. Schultz.
Unfortunately, many dog bites become infected. If you suffered an infection from a dog bite, we can help you get all the compensation you deserve. Call the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. today at 404-474-0804 today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.