In the event of a dog bite, one of the greatest long-term health risks is the risk of infection. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 10 to 15 percent of all dog bite victims will contract an infection – and an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine identifies well over 100 infectious bacteria that can be transmitted from dogs to humans when a bite pierces the skin. These infections – including tetanus and rabies – can have painful and debilitating symptoms; and in the worst cases they can even lead to death.
If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, it is important to see a doctor promptly. Even if you do not see any symptoms of an infection, you should still get tested; and if you or your child’s symptoms worsen after you get home, you should let your doctor know right away.
Symptoms of Dog Bite Infections
As with most forms of infection, the most-immediate symptoms of a dog bite infection are localized pain and inflammation. If you see redness or swelling, or if the skin around the bite feels warm, these are all potential signs of an infection. Without prompt treatment, the symptoms of the infection can progress to include:
- Tenderness or loss of sensation around the bite
- Red streaking in the skin
- Muscle weakness
- Oozing from the wound, or a wound that appears abnormal
- Difficulty breathing
- Stiff jaw and neck muscles or difficulty swallowing
- Convulsions or spasms
Each of these could be a sign of a potentially-serious medical issue, and it is recommended that dog bite victims and parents of children who suffer dog bites and who experience these symptoms seek immediate medical attention.
Treating and Reducing the Risk of Infection from Dog Bites
Treatment for a dog bite involves treating the injury itself (including setting broken bones repairing any internal tissue damage) and taking measures to prevent an infection. The Cleveland Clinic recommends these seven steps:
- Press on the wound gently to help expel any harmful bacteria
- Wash the wound with mild soap and water
- Apply firm but gentle pressure to stop the bleeding
- Apply an antibiotic cream to the wound
- Wrap the wound with a sterile bandage
- Change the bandage regularly once you’ve seen a doctor
- Monitor the wound as it heals for signs of an infection
When a dog bite becomes infected, prescription antibiotics may be necessary to kill the harmful bacteria and allow the wound to heal properly. Prompt medical intervention can reduce the treatment and recovery period for infections; and once diagnosed with an infection, dog bite victims should closely follow their doctor’s advice.
Medical Costs, Pain and Suffering, and Financial Compensation for Dog Bite Infections
As with all types of traumatic injuries, the physical, emotional, and financial costs of an infectious dog bite can be far greater than most people realize. Dogs have incredible bite strength, and a severe bite can easily cause lasting damage with permanent complications. If a dog bite becomes infected, the infection will multiply the traumatic effects, and the victim can suffer significant immediate and long-term consequences.
The medical costs of treating an infectious dog bite can include multiple doctor’s office or hospital visits as well as medical supplies (such as gauze and bandages for multiple daily dressings of the wound) and prescription antibiotics. If the injury prevents use of the arm, leg, hand, or foot, physical rehabilitation may be necessary as well. Dog bite victims can seek to recover all of their bite-related medical expenses, including expenses for both past and future care.
Pain and Suffering
The pain caused by an infectious dog bite can be severe. Dog bite victims who contract infections can experience pain for weeks while their injuries heal; and if a bite results in permanent damage, the victim can experience chronic pain for the rest of his or her life.
In addition to the physical pain from wounds and infections, dog bite victims can also experience lasting emotional trauma. Adults can become fearful of dogs, and children can grow up with a traumatic response to any interaction (or potential interaction) with an unfamiliar animal.
Loss of Income
If you are at the hospital or at home resting, you are not at work. Loss of income can be another significant consequence of a severe dog bite. For both adults and children, loss of future earning capacity due to chronic pain or permanent disability is another factor that must be considered when seeking compensation for a dog bite.
Along with medical expenses, transportation costs and other out-of-pocket expenses can add up quickly after a vicious dog attack. As a dog bite victim (or the parent of a child who was bitten by a dog), you are entitled to seek full compensation for all of your bite-related losses.
Other Long-Term Effects
In addition to permanent disabilities, chronic pain, and emotional trauma, severe dog bite injuries can have other long-term effects as well. If an infectious dog bite has left you or your child unable to spend meaningful time with friends and family, participate in sports or activities, engage in hobbies, perform household chores, or fully enjoy life – these are all additional types of losses for which financial compensation is available under law.
An infectious dog bite is a serious injury that requires quality medical care and that can lead to substantial financial and non-financial losses. If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, you should seek medical and legal advice as soon as possible. At Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers, we provide compassionate legal representation for dog bite victims and their families. We can help you get the medical treatment you need, and we will fight to make sure you win the compensation you deserve.
Call Me, Brian D. Guralnick, Personally for a Free Consultation
If you need more information protecting your legal rights after a vicious dog attack in Palm Beach County, I encourage you to call me, Brian D. Guralnick, personally for a free consultation. To discuss your case in confidence, please call 561.202.MORE(6673), or connect with me online today.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog is not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. If you need advice on specific legal issues, please consult with a licensed Personal Injury attorney.