Most people know that dog bites can cause serious injuries that are painful and can be extremely traumatic, but dog bites can also spread diseases that are extremely serious. We are all familiar with rabies and that is often a concern when someone is bitten by a dog (especially one that is feral and doesn't have an identified owner). But there are several other diseases that are transmitted through dog bites that you should be aware of.
Obviously, it's important to avoid being bitten by a dog. Our post here describes how to avoid being bitten by a dog as well as what to do in the event that you are bitten.
If you are bitten by a dog and you don't think it is serious or needs medical attention, the Centers for Disease Control still encourage you to seek medical attention because of these lesser known diseases that are serious and can be life threatening if contracted.
Here are the main diseases that you should ask about if seeking medical attention for a dog bite.
"Rabies is one of the most serious diseases people can get from dog bites. Although getting rabies from a dog in the United States is rare, it is still a risk. Rabies is a virus that affects the brain and is almost always fatal once symptoms appear. Rabies virus is most commonly spread through the bite and saliva of an infected animal. The disease can be prevented by vaccinating dogs. People who are bitten by a dog should speak with a healthcare provider to see if rabies vaccination is necessary.
Capnocytophaga bacteria live in the mouths of people, dogs, and cats. These bacteria do not make dogs or cats sick. Rarely, Capnocytophaga can spread to people through bites, scratches, or close contact from a dog or cat and cause illness. Most people who have contact with dogs or cats do not become sick, but people with a weakened immune system are at greater risk of becoming sick because it is harder for their bodies to fight infections.
Pasteurella is a type of bacteria seen in over half of infected dog bite wounds. Pasteurella commonly causes a painful, red infection at the site of the bite, but can cause a more serious disease in people with weakened immune systems. There may also be swollen glands, swelling in the joints, and difficulty moving.
MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a type of staph infection that is resistant to a certain group of antibiotics. Dogs and other animals can carry MRSA without showing any symptoms, but the bacteria can cause skin, lung, and urinary tract infections in people. In some people, MRSA can spread to the bloodstream or lungs and cause life-threatening infections.
Tetanus is a toxin produced by a type of bacteria called Clostridium tetani. This toxin causes rigid paralysis in people and could be a problem in deep bite wounds." (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Preventing Dog Bites)
As you can see, some of these diseases are very serious and treatment could result in hospitalization and major medical expenses. In many cases involving dog bites, the owner is liable and may be responsible for your medical expenses. We can help you to determine liability and as well as walk you through the process of making a claim. If you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog, we can help. Contact our office for a FREE consultation.