What Are the Signs of Infection from a Dog Bite?

One of the greatest risks of a dog bite is the risk of infection. While most infections can be treated with a timely diagnosis, some dog attack victims can face long-term, permanent, or even fatal consequences. As a result, it is important to be aware of the signs of infection from a dog bite—and to see a doctor immediately if you have any concerns about a possible bite-related infection.

Our Bakersfield dog bite lawyer understands the challenges faced by victims of vicious dog attacks. The Law Offices of Mickey Fine is committed to helping individuals and families pursue the maximum compensation they need to move forward after a severe dog bite.

There are four primary infection risks associated with dog bites. Each of these four infections has its own unique set of symptoms (though certain symptoms are common to a broad range of infections). The primary infection risks associated with dog bites are:

  • Capnocytophaga Infections
  • Pasteurellosis Infections
  • Rabies Infections
  • Staphylococcal (Staph) Infections

Understanding the Signs and Symptoms of Dog Bite Infections

An infection happens when a foreign organism enters your body and causes disease. In the case of a dog bite, this foreign organism is typically either a bacteria or virus. The bacteria or virus attacks your body, and your body does everything it can to fight back. While the infection itself can have various negative effects, your body’s reaction to the infection can cause symptoms as well.

Capnocytophaga Infection

Capnocytophaga infections are relatively rare, but they are also among the most dangerous infections that can result from dog bites. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Capnocytophaga infection can cause serious complications, including heart attack, kidney failure, and gangrene. Some people may need to have fingers, toes, or even limbs amputated because of complications from severe infection.”

The CDC notes that most people will begin experiencing symptoms within three to five days of being bitten, but symptoms can appear any time from one to 14 days following a bite. The main symptoms of a capnocytophaga infection from a dog bite include:

  • Blisters in the vicinity of the bite wound
  • Redness, swelling, and pain at the bite wound
  • Discharge from the bite wound
  • Diarrhea, stomach pain, and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Fever

Pasteurellosis Infection

Pasteurellosis infections are more common than capnocytophaga infections, and they are typically less severe. Typical symptoms of pasteurellosis infections include:

  • Redness and swelling around the bite wound
  • Pain or tenderness at the bite wound
  • Discharge from the bite wound
  • Difficulty breathing

For most dog bite victims who experience a pasteurellosis infection, a full recovery is possible with prompt treatment (doctors will prescribe antibacterial medications in most cases).

However, these infections can spread quickly and, if left untreated, can lead to potentially serious complications. These include pneumonia, urinary tract infections, blood infections, and meningitis. As a result, prompt diagnosis and treatment are extremely important, and anyone who is experiencing (or who has a child or other family member who is experiencing) symptoms of a pasteurellosis infection should see a doctor right away.

Rabies Infection

Rabies is a viral infection that can have a wide range of symptoms. These symptoms can also vary widely in terms of their severity. The rabies virus attacks the brain, and prompt treatment is critical for preventing potentially serious or fatal complications. Signs that immediate treatment for rabies may be necessary include:

  • Pricking or itching sensation at the bite wound
  • General weakness or discomfort
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Anxiety, confusion, and agitation
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Behavioral changes
  • Hallucinations or hydrophobia (fear of water)

The CDC notes that many people who contract rabies from a dog bite will initially experience flu-like symptoms. These symptoms can appear from weeks to months following the bite, and how soon a dog attack victim experiences symptoms of rabies depends on factors including, “the location of the exposure site (how far away it is from the brain), the type of rabies virus, and any existing immunity.”

Staphylococcal (Staph) Infection

A staph infection is a potentially serious medical condition that can result from a dog bite. Dogs naturally carry staphylococcus bacteria in their saliva, so these are among the more common types of bite-related infections. Common signs of staph infections from dog bites include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Swelling and redness around the bite wound
  • Discharge from the bite wound
  • Red streaks in the skin around the bite
  • Painful skin
  • Fever
  • Chills

Staph infections can last for weeks or months, and they can lead to severe complications if not treated promptly. One of the most significant complications associated with a staph infection is sepsis, which results in extreme loss of blood pressure and must be treated as a medical emergency.

Speak with a Bakersfield Dog Bite Lawyer about Your Legal Rights

If you, your child, or another loved one has been diagnosed with an infection resulting from a dog bite, your family may be entitled to financial compensation. To learn more from Bakersfield dog bite lawyer Mickey Fine, call (661) 333-3333 today for a free consultation.

Dog Bite
by Mickey Fine Law
Last updated on - Originally published on