One of the most important concerns when a dog bites you – aside from injury of course – is infection. With upwards of 300 potentially harmful bacteria capable of living inside a dog’s mouth, you need to be worried about the microorganisms, which get transferred when the animal attacks you. The deeper the bite, the higher the chances would be of the bacteria entering into the bones, muscles, or blood, and birthing an infection which is hard to fight.
Signs of an Infection
Following a dog bite, if you see one or more of the following signs, chances are that you have contracted an infection that needs to be treated as soon as possible.
- Swelling or Inflammation: A dog bite infection can cause inflammation at and around the wound site, usually starting around 8 hours after the incident. You would need to wait at least a day before ruling this out.
- Discharge: You may see a whitish discharge or pus coming out of the wound, in which case you should get yourself checked for infection.
- Warm Skin: An infection could cause the surrounding skin to rise in temperature, to the point of becoming warm to the touch.
- Fever: If there were an infection, your body would normally begin trying to fight it off. The main change you would see is a rise in body temperature, manifesting as a fever.
- Redness: The skin surrounding the bite can start turning red if you have an infection and it starts getting worse. You may also see red streaks along an arm or leg, beginning from the wound site and headed to the body’s center.
Leaving any of these unchecked can leave the door open for serious illnesses, which could even regress so far as to become fatal.
Some Infections Caused by Dog Bites
- Pasteurellosis: This infection is fairly common, but that does not mean it is not a serious one. Caused by Pasteurella bacteria, which reside in the mouth of almost every dog and cat, this infection usually appears inside twelve hours from the dog bite incident. You would experience swelling, pain, and redness in the bite area, and if you leave it as it is, there is a chance that it will cause permanent damage to the muscles, bones, and tendons.
- E. Coli Infection: Escherichia coli, a bacterium famous as a common cause of food poisoning, lives in the dog’s lower intestine. On entering the blood, such as through a bite, it could cause an infection serious enough that it requires medical treatment to remove completely.
- MRSA, Staph, and Strep Infections: The latter two infections occur highly commonly in dog bite victims, causing initial symptoms like redness, pain, and swelling. If left untreated, it can spread fairly quickly through the system. On reaching the blood, it causes a form of blood poisoning known as bacteremia, which can sometimes end up being fatal to the infected person. MRSA is even worse, in that it cannot be tackled with regular antibiotic treatments.
- Capnocytophaga: This bacterium usually lives on cats’ and dogs’ teeth. Whenever it moves into a human body via a bite wound, it normally causes a dangerous infection, which proves fatal in over a fourth of reported cases.
- Fusobacterium: This is a common bacterium, which causes dog bite victims to develop meningitis after entering their bloodstream. The complication is almost always severe, and requires extensive treatment to ensure that the victims safe, let alone fully cured.
- Rabies: This is a virus-induced condition, which gets transmitted through an infected animal’s saliva, usually through a bite. The brain of the infected person swells, and always leads to death, except in instances where he or she is given the proper vaccination shots soon after the incident.
- Cellulitis: This is an infection of the skin, which is caused by Staphylococcus. It can spread right up till the blood stream and the lymph nodes, and often results in the victim’s death
No dog bite infection should be considered trivial unless a medical doctor clears you. Right after you get bitten, it is essential that you get yourself checked, and treated if necessary. Primarily, dog bite infections are treated with antibiotics, the major ones being Amoxicillin, Penicillin, and Doxycycline. Amoxicillin is a frequently prescribed oral antibiotic, which is applied over a period of up to two weeks. Penicillin not only removes infections but also prevents future ones from developing, and is among the strongest prescribed antibiotics for dog bite infections. Doxycycline is a substitute intended for people who have allergies towards penicillin.
After seeing to your medical needs, get in touch with a dog bite injury lawyer if you wish to seek legal compensation for your losses. Based on whether and how far the dog owner is willing to make restitutions, you would either be able to settle the matter in a dog bite settlement, or have to take the matter to the court.