You can suffer serious injuries in a dog attack that cause permanent scarring and disfigurement, as well as chronic pain and limitations on your ability to work and take care of your daily activities. Dog bites also put you in danger of developing a serious infection with dangerous complications.
You may have the right to pursue injury compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages due to infections from dog bites. First, learn what the most common infections are, and then how proper legal representation with a San Diego dog bite lawyer will help your case.
Common Infections From Dog Bites
The bacteria Pasteurella, which is in a dog's mouth, is transmitted when the animal punctures a person's skin. This bacteria can cause cellulitis, which is a complicated skin infection. Symptoms of this infection usually develop within 2–24 hours after a dog bite and include redness, swelling, tenderness, and pus around the wound.
A victim must get immediate medical treatment if symptoms develop. If untreated, a pasteurella infection can cause these complications:
- Joint, bone, and tendon infections
- Urinary tract infection
- Eye infection
- Blood infection
Staph and Strep
Staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria cause staph and strep infections. The initial symptoms are similar to those of a Pasteurella infection and can also lead to cellulitis. Serious complications from this infection include blood poisoning and pneumonia.
While rabies isn't the most common infection you could get from a dog bite, it can be one of the most deadly. Rabies is a viral disease that the animal transmits to a person through its saliva if it scratches or bites him. If attacked by a dog, victims should seek immediate medical care to determine if treatment is needed to prevent rabies.
Once a person presents symptoms of rabies, the infection is often fatal. The initial symptoms are similar to the flu and can last for a few days or longer. Other progressive symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing and excessive saliva
- Partial paralysis
Capnocytophaga is a rarer bacterial infection transmitted from a dog’s bite or scratch. People with weakened immune systems, who experience difficulty fighting infections—such as individuals with HIV or cancer—or are taking steroids have a higher risk of developing this condition.
Most victims will experience symptoms within three to five days of a dog bite, but it can take up to 14 days for Capnocytophaga to fully present. Symptoms include blisters around the wound, swelling, pus, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and headaches. Capnocytophaga can also cause life-threatening complications such as:
- Heart attack
- Kidney failure
What Should You Do If Bitten by a Dog?
If a dog bites you or a family member, you should take immediate steps to protect yourself and reduce the risk of infection:
- Go to a safe place away from the dog to avoid further attacks.
- If a child or infant is bitten, go to the emergency room immediately.
- Wash the area with soap and water.
- Slow any bleeding by pressing a clean cloth on the bite.
- Apply a first-aid antibiotic cream and cover the wound with a sterile bandage.
- If there are only abrasions, dress the wound and watch for signs of infection. Seek prompt medical care if you see any symptoms of infection such as fever, increased pain, redness, and swelling.
- If you experience pain at the wound site and the skin is punctured, dress the wound and go to the emergency room or contact your physician immediately.