Can I get an infection from a dog bite?

Dog growling

Puncture wounds from a dog bite may be painful enough, but the risk of infection after the fact makes an attack all the more distressing. Medscape.com reports that of the approximately 4.5 million people who suffer dog bites in the United States every year, 3 percent to 18 percent of them will develop an infection. A study reported in the Emergency Medicine journal states that the infection rate for puncture wounds is 10.5 percent, compared to 3.7 percent for other types of wounds. As a good Lake County dog bite lawyer knows, there may be real danger of suffering from an infection after a canine attack in Illinois.

Most dog attacks happen to children between the ages of 5 and 9. Due to the relative size of a young child to a dog’s muzzle, most injuries occur to the neck and face, areas that may be especially vulnerable to developing infection. Adults experience a greater incidence of injury from a canine attack to their hands and arms.

Common pathogens in dog bite wounds

Many people erroneously believe a dog’s mouth to have fewer germs than a human’s. The fact is, a dog’s mouth is host to several forms of bacteria, collectively known as animal oral flora. This should come as no surprise considering that dogs habitually chew and eat a wide variety of items, from small animals to toys and trash. According to Live Science, when a dog bites a human, environmental bacteria and pathogens on the victim’s own skin combine to raise the risk of infection in the wound.

Several varieties of organisms may be present in a canine puncture wound. Common pathogens that cause infection in dog bites include pasteurella, staphylococcus, and streptococcus. C. Canimorsus infection may critically affect people with compromised immune systems, although it has been known to dramatically and negatively affect otherwise healthy individuals as well.

Symptoms and treatment

A Lake County dog bite lawyer may stress the importance of seeking immediate medical attention as soon as there are signs an infection may be present. An infection will start to appear within the first one or two days after the bite occurs. Signs of an infection may include the following:

  • Pain and/or warmth
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Drainage of pus or fluid from the wound

In addition to the symptoms listed above, fever, difficulty breathing, or loss of feeling may also be indications of an infection. If an infection occurs, a doctor may proscribe antibiotics to treat it.

Get help after an attack

Dog bites may result in debilitating infection and long term injury. It is essential to seek immediate medical help. The state of Illinois may hold dog owners responsible for medical expensed incurred from canine attacks on any individual even when there has been no prior incident of aggression in the dog. A Lake County dog bite lawyer may assist in getting appropriate compensation for victims of canine attack, so that they may receive the best care possible for the fullest recovery.