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Identifying and Treating Dog Bite Infections

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on June 4, 2020

Dog bites come with cuts, bruises, broken bones, and emotional trauma, but infections are another major risk most people forget about. As much as we love dogs, we all are aware of how filthy their mouths can be. After a dog bite, victims can suffer from a range of medical conditions and diseases caused by exposure to a dog’s saliva. It is imperative to understand the symptoms and treatments associated with dog bites in order to ensure you receive proper medical care and avoid costly injuries.

Types of Dog Bite Infections

Dog bites primarily include bacterial or viral infections that present as fevers, rashes, and inflammation, but several can be extremely dangerous for children, the elderly, or people with compromised immune systems, such as cancer patients. These infections should be identified and treated immediately after a dog bite. Bacterial infections are known for causing cellulitis, which can include inflammation, swelling, fevers, pneumonia, UTI’s, infections in soft tissue, and eye infections.

  • Pasteurella multocida and pasteurella canis—a common bacterium found in dogs’ mouths, these diseases can lead to mild infections in adults but can be especially dangerous for children.
  • Staph or strep infections—also referred to as staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria, these infections can lead to cellulitis, fevers, joint swelling, and sepsis, if untreated.
  • MSRI’s—serious bacteria infections that are resistant to traditional antibiotics and can be fatal if not treated immediately.
  • Escherichia coli—while E. coli is generally considered a food-based bacteria, it can dwell in an animal’s stomach and spread through a dog bite.
  • Rabies—the infamous rabies virus causes swelling in the brain and death if not treated with a rabies vaccination. Sadly, by the time a dog bite victim experiences symptoms, the disease is often untreatable, which is why most dog bite victims are immediately treated with the vaccination if they are suspected of having rabies.
  • Capnocytophaga—a rare bacteria infection that can be fatal for individuals with compromised immune symptoms.

These are just a few of the more common diseases that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified in dog bite wounds. Dog bite infections are almost impossible to treat without anti-biotics and medical intervention, which is why we advise all victims to see a physician as soon as possible. Waiting until you have symptoms can prove deadly, especially if you have a compromised immune system. After your initial check-up, you should keep in contact with your doctor to update them of any new symptoms you are experiencing, as you may have been infected with one of the rarer forms of bacteria.

Treating Dog Bite Wounds

When you visit an urgent care or emergency room, a physician will access all aspects of your injuries, from broken bones to lacerations, to determine the right course of treatment. If the wound is shallow, you may only receive bandages, stitches, and antibiotics—such as  Amoxicillin, Penicillin, or Doxycycline—to treat any potential infections. For more serious lacerations, you may develop scarring which may require treatment from a plastic surgeon.

Leaving dog bite wounds untreated can be extremely dangerous and sometimes even fatal. Child should be immediately checked out by a doctor, as well as the elderly or any individual with a compromised immune system. It is not easy to tell what infection a dog might have, so it is best not to leave it up to fate to decide whether or not you have contracted a serious infection.

You should also request follow up appointments if you experience:

  • Rashes near the bite
  • Fevers
  • Inflammation
  • Joint swelling
  • Muscle pain
  • Pus or discharge from the wound
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Headaches

While most people do not like to make a fuss over dog bites, these injuries can negatively affect your life. In addition to costly medical bills from immediate medical car and follow up treatments, you may also miss out on work, develop scars, or suffering additional injuries.

That is why in the State of Washington you can pursue a claim for damages against a dog’s owner if it attacked you and caused a bacterial or viral infection. These claims can provide compensation lost wages, medical treatment, and emotional damage from the event, especially if your child was attacked. To ensure you receive proper compensation after a dog bite, contact the Seattle dog bite attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., by calling (425) 228-3860 or toll-free at (888) 228-3860.

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