Why do people consider dog bite wounds to be so threatening? The answer is that animal bites, especially those from canines, have a tendency to become seriously infected.
Common Dog Bite Infections
In addition to the pain and lacerations that can result from a dog attack, the victim must also worry that deep wounds and punctures caused by the attack are susceptible to many forms of bacteria and viruses. Bacteria from the dog’s saliva, environmental bacteria, and bacteria on your skin can all enter the wound and lead to serious ailments if not treated and cleaned properly. Potential contaminating microbes include:
Pasteurellum. Several Pasteurella species are associated with dog bites—Pasteurella stomatis, Pasteurella dogmatis, and Pasteurella canis. Pasteurella is an aggressive bacteria often found in canine saliva. This bacteria can quickly spread throughout the skin tissue causing cellulitis, or a breakdown of cells. If not treated with antimicrobial medication, the bacteria can travel to the lungs and cause serious respiratory risks.
Capnocytophaga. Capnocytophaga canimorsus and Capnocytophaga cynodegmi are two other types of bacteria found in canine saliva that can infect and essentially poison the blood, leading to sepsis.
Rabies. When a dog is infected with rabies, a single bite is enough to transmit the disease to humans. The rabies virus attacks the central nervous system and cause seizures, paranoia, hallucinations, increased saliva production, an aversion to water (hydrophobia), and eventual death.
Meningitis. Environmental bacteria, canine saliva, and unclean skin can all potentially harbor bacteria or viruses that can infect the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. When these fluids are polluted they can cause inflammation in the brain and spine, leading to convulsions, delirium, paralysis, and even death.
The absolute best way to prevent a dog bite infection is obviously to avoid the bite in the first place. However, despite your best efforts to control an aggressive canine, an attack may not be preventable. However, you can still decrease your chance of infection, regardless of the severity of your injuries, by following a few simple post-attack steps:
Assess the damage. Before you attempt any treatment of the area, you must first identify the severity of the wound. If the attack failed to pierce or puncture the skin, your risk for an infection is extremely low. However, if the bite drew blood, you must act quickly to decrease your risks of blood contamination.
Cleanse the area. Gently cleanse the skin surrounding the bite wound to remove any dirt, saliva, or foreign contaminates. If you don’t have an antimicrobial or sanitizing agent available, use warm water and soap until you can see a doctor.
Dress the wound. When the injury is bleeding profusely, place pressure on the area to limit blood flow. Once you've slowed the bleeding, tie a bandage around the area until you can get to a hospital. If the wound is only bleeding a little, you can allow it to flow for a few moments to help cleanse the inside of the wound. As the blood makes its way outside of the body, it will pull foreign contaminant with it. However, you still must make sure the area is cleansed properly and seen by a physician.
Get medical attention. If the bite punctured the skin, there is no way of telling if bacteria entered your body by merely looking at the wound. Although cleansing the area can help, a physician can check your blood for bacteria and prescribe medication to combat specific infections.
Once your wounds have been properly treated, there’s one more thing you need to know—the contact information for the Andrew Kim Law Firm, PLLC. Depending on the severity of your injuries and the amount of pain and suffering caused by your attack, you may be entitled to injury compensation. Schedule a FREE, no-obligation consultation with us today. We will discuss your case and help you evaluate your options. Call or contact us today to sink your teeth into a strong personal injury claim your trauma deserves!