Dogs of any size or breed can cause open wounds on the skin during an attack. When dog bite victims are exposed to harmful bacteria, they are at risk of suffering serious infections. When left untreated, these infections can result in dangerous diseases and even be fatal. If you have been injured due to a dog bite, Briskman Briskman & Greenberg can help you recover compensation for your medical expenses, emotional distress and other related costs. Our Chicago dog bite lawyers are ready to pursue a personal injury claim on your behalf.
Common Dog Bite Infections
Infections and diseases are serious concerns after a dog attack. When a dog bite leaves an open gash on your skin, bacteria from the dog’s saliva can enter your body and result in an infection. In some cases, an infection can spread to other parts of the body and lead to complications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified various diseases that dog bite victims may be at risk of developing, including:
• Rabies: People bitten or scratched by a dog with rabies can get the neurologic disease through their saliva. What makes rabies so dangerous is that it causes progressive brain inflammation and can be deadly without immediate medical treatment.
Symptoms: Signs of rabies infection can appear days to months after a dog bite. However, once they do, it is usually too late for treatment. Symptoms may start with headaches, fevers and weakness, progressively worsening to insomnia, convulsions, nausea, partial paralysis and hallucinations.
• Pasteurella: According to the CDC, this type of bacteria is present in more than half of infected dog bites. The bacterial organisms can be found inside the mouths of dogs. When spread to a dog bite victim, they can cause a dangerous infection known as cellulitis. Because cellulitis can result in swollen glands and joints, it can make movement difficult for the person.
Symptoms: Cellulitis symptoms typically emerge 24 hours after a bite. They can include swelling, redness and oozing from the wound. Cellulitis spreads fast. Without treatment, symptoms can worsen quickly and lead to blood infections, pneumonia, meningitis and other serious conditions.
• Staph and Strep Infections: Staph infections such as MRSA are common in dog bite victims. When a bacterial infection spreads to the bloodstream and lungs, it becomes life-threatening. Staph and strep infections are resistant to certain types of antibiotics.
Symptoms: There is a wide range of symptoms that may indicate staph or strep infection. They can include fevers, boils and cellulitis, varying according to which body part the bacteria have affected. The infections can be fatal.
• Capnocytophaga spp.: Dog bites may cause capnocytophaga infections via the transmission of bacteria from a dog’s mouth. Although the infection is rare, it can progress fast and lead to organ damage and meningitis. Individuals with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. If sepsis occurs, it can be life-threatening. A severe infection may even require the patient to have their limbs amputated.
Symptoms: A person with a capnocytophaga infection from a dog bite may experience fever, blistering around the wound, redness, joint pain, swelling, headaches and vomiting, among a wide range of other flu-like symptoms.
• Tetanus: This is a serious infection that results from deep bite wounds when tetanus bacteria enter the body. It affects the central nervous system. The worst cases lead to paralysis or death. Anyone who has symptoms of this disease is likely to require a tetanus vaccine and antibiotics.
Symptoms: Tetanus symptoms include difficulty swallowing and painful muscle spasms, as well as stiffness in the jaw, neck and abdominal muscles.
Treating Dog Bites and Preventing Infection
If you have suffered a dog bite, you should clean the wound as soon as possible. Washing the dog bite with soap and running water can help prevent infection. Cover the injury with a clean bandage. Watch for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, worsening pain, oozing from the wound or loss of sensation in the area.
Be sure to see a doctor right away so that you can get a proper diagnosis and treatment. Even a seemingly minor dog bite should be taken seriously as it can develop into a dangerous disease without prompt medical attention. Sometimes symptoms of infection do not present themselves until later.
The doctor may prescribe antibiotics or administer vaccinations to treat certain infections. For example, a dog bite victim who is not up to date on their tetanus vaccine may need a shot to reduce the risk of disease. You may require a rabies vaccine if you were bitten by a dog whose rabies vaccination status is unknown.
Contact Briskman Briskman & Greenberg
Getting bitten by a dog is likely to be a painful and frightening experience, given the risk of infections that can develop into dangerous diseases. If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite, reach out to the experienced and compassionate Chicago dog bite attorneys at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. We can help you understand your legal options for pursuing compensation for your treatment.