Dog Bite Infection 101

Tim Miley
Injury Lawyer, Author, & Owner of The Miley Legal Group

Dogs bite about 4.5 million people each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some of these bites are quite serious; 885,000 require medical attention and about 27,000 victims required reconstructive surgery in 2012.

Any type of wound can be a risk for a dog bite infection. This is particularly true when the wound originates from a dog, as it may contain bacteria or viruses in its saliva.

Common Types of Dog Bite Infections

With dog bite wounds, there are numerous types of bacterium that can enter the victims’ body, develop, and cause infection. “Bite wound infections are usually polymicrobial, with a mix of animal oral flora, recipient skin flora and environmental organisms,” explains a report in Expert Review of Anti-infective Therapy. Some varieties of pathogens in dog bites that can cause infection and disease, as outlined in the report, include the following.

  • Pasteurella spp.
  • Staphylococcus spp.
  • Streptococcus spp.
  • Capnocytophaga canimorsus.
  • Porphyromonas spp.
  • Bacteroides spp.
  • Fusobacterium spp.
  • and, rabies.

Risk Factors for Dog Bite Infection

Some victims are more susceptible to dog bite infection than others. Anyone with a compromised immune system has a greater risk of infection.  Some general risk factors include type of wound (puncture wounds may have greater risk of infection than more superficial injuries) and poor or absent wound care. A delay in receiving care can increase risk of dog bite infection too.

The primary way to try to stave off infection is to keep the wound clean, change the dressings as the doctor recommends, and keep a careful watch on the area. Taking it easy, eating well, and getting enough rest will help strengthen the body’s immune system and allow it to perform its job better.

Recognizing the Signs of Infection

Up to 20 percent of dog bite wound injuries become infected, according to the report in American Family Physician. If you or your child suffered a dog bite attack, you’ll need to keep close watch on the wound for signs of a dog bite infection. If you notice any of the following signs, contact your physician straightaway.

  • inflammation or swelling.
  • redness around the bite area.
  • skin that’s hot to the touch.
  • fever.
  • trembling.
  • swollen and sore lymph nodes.
  • and, white or yellow discharge.

After any bite, set up a consultation with a doctor for a medical evaluation. Discuss risk of infection and review any other symptoms to watch for that might indicate you contracted an infection from the dog bite.

Legal Damages for a Dog Bite Infection

If you contracted a dog bite infection after the attack, then you may suffer a financial burden given the medical expenses that follow. You may also miss work as you recover, which leads to lost wages. Victims may also experience pain and suffering because of the attack.

It’s important to ensure that your dog bite claim addresses all of these and any other damages you suffer as a result. The dog owner may be liable for damages if the dog has bitten before – or demonstrated a propensity to bite – or if the owner allowed the dog to run at large.

Discuss liability and recoverable damages in a dog bite claim with an attorney for a case-specific evaluation of your legal options.

Dog Bite Attack? Call the Miley Legal Group in Clarksburg

If you or a loved one suffered a dog bite infection after an attack, you may be able to recover damages in a personal injury claim. To determine your options, contact the Miley Legal Group in Clarksburg to set up a free consultation: (304) 931-4088 or contact us online.