Dog Bite Infections Can Lead to Serious Problems

dog bite infectionAccording to the American Academy of Pediatrics, between 10 to 15 percent of dog bite victims will have an infection as a complication of the healing process.

And dog bite infections can be the most serious part of the whole attack. In extreme cases, the infection may prove fatal. 

In 2010, Kenneth Bock was bitten on the hand by a wandering dog while he was working at a storage facility in Monroe. The dog bite led to a massive infection and Bock tragically died 10 days later. The day after Bock was bitten by the dog, he developed severe shooting pains in one of his legs. He visited a hospital to undergo medical testing for the pain, where doctors eventually discovered the forming of a blood clot. Bock had developed a bacterial infection believed to be caused by a bacteria commonly found in animal saliva.

Bock’s family hired Davis Law Group, P.S., and we helped recover a $975,000 settlement on behalf of his estate.

Dog Bite Infections: The Basics

An infection occurs in a dog bite when bacteria from the dog’s mouth or saliva enters a wound. Additionally, bacteria from the surrounding environment can also lead to infection. 

Lacerations and puncture wounds are the most common type of dog bite injury to cause an infection. When the skin is broken, bacteria can get under the skin and cause damage. Dog bites that only scrape or scratch the skin — and do not break it — pose minimal risk for infection.

Wounds on the hands and toes carry the greatest risk for infection. Research has shown that keeping these areas clean and properly covered is the main reason. 

Those with a weakened immune system — diabetes, kidney problems, etc. — are at a greater risk for infections after a dog bite.

Types of Dog Bite Infections

There are many possible infections that come from dog bite wounds. Some of the most common concerns following a dog bite attack are:

  • Group A Streptococcus: This infection causes symptoms similar to the flu and can lead to seizures or permanent skin loss if left untreated.
  • Staphylococcus Aureus (Staph): Mild cases cause minimal problems, but a staph infection can be fatal if it goes untreated. Staph infections may also lead to an infection of the bloodstream known as sepsis.
  • Pasteurella: This results in blood clots, joint or tendon damage, and meningitis.
  • Rabies: This affects the spinal cord and brain and can be fatal if left untreated. In the United States, mandatory vaccinations for domestic animals greatly reduce the risk of rabies. Additionally bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and coyotes are all far more likely to have rabies than a domesticated dog.

Recognize a Dog Bite Infection

Not all dog bites require a trip to the emergency room, but make sure to treat all dog bites with care. Properly cleansing the wound and keeping it clean will greatly reduce the risk of infection. 

Knowing the warning signs for infection will help you as you go through the process. Signs of infection include:

  • Redness in the affected area
  • Severe pain surrounding the wound
  • Swelling or inflammation
  • Pus or unusual discharge
  • Loss of sensation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Of course many of the above symptoms may be cause by something other than a dog bite. But by being cautious and having your wound checked by a doctor, you can avoid an infection spreading and becoming worse.

Holding Dog Owners Responsible for Injuries

Depending on the facts of the case, dog bite victims may be able to receive compensation for:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Scar reduction surgery
  • Therapy and counseling
  • Past and future loss of income
  • Emotional pain/mental anguish
  • Physical pain and suffering

It’s important to hire a dog bite attorney to work hard to maximize your compensation and resolve your claim as quickly as possible. If you would like to speak with someone about a potential dog bite injury claim, contact the attorneys at Seattle-based Davis Law Group. We offer free case evaluations and operate on a contingency fee, meaning you don’t pay anything unless we win. 

We handle cases across Washington state. Call (206) 727-4000, use the chat feature below or fill out the form to get started.

Chris Davis
Award-winning personal injury attorney and founder of Davis Law Group, P.S. in Seattle, Washington.