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Many animal bites don’t come from creatures in the wild. In fact, most can be attributed to domestic cats, dogs and other animals. Out of this group, dogs make up the largest percentage. This sounds amazing, but about 4.45 million individuals are bit by a dog each year. Children ages five through nine are at the greatest risk and in general, attacks are unprovoked.

Curious-boy-dog-and-a-catIn one percent of these cases, an infection occurs. How does this happen and what can you do to prevent becoming a victim?

Why?

Often dogs bite people on the fingers or hands, where the body has a harder time fighting off infections. Here, bacteria from the animal’s tooth or a microbe already living on your skin gets embedded in your flesh when the dog’s tooth penetrates. Not long after, the bacteria multiply, resulting in swelling and inflammation.

However, penetration isn’t the only cause of a potential infection. Scrapes, teeth grazing the skin, lacerations and puncture wounds are also culprits. In fact, the latter puts you at the highest degree of risk, as punctures are notoriously difficult to clean and bacteria is easily trapped inside the wound.

What Causes the Infection?

A number of bacteria could cause the infection. What you are experiencing could be polymicrobial:

  • Pasteurella
  • Staphylococcus
  • Streptococcus
  • Capnocytophaga canimorsus

Additionally, bacteria aren’t the only thing you need to be concerned about. In very rare cases, a dog bite, scratch or puncture could transmit rabies. Should you decide not to go to the doctor, make sure that the dog is fully up-to-date on its shots.

Signs

An infection manifests through a wide range of symptoms:

  • Pain, swelling and redness
  • Oozing pus or fluid
  • Tenderness around the bite area
  • A loss of sensation around the bite
  • Red streaks
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • A fever, chills or fatigue
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Muscle weakness

Eventually, the infection may develop into a more serious condition, such as tetanus.

Treatment

After you’re bitten, make sure to clean the area. If you experience bleeding or signs of an infection:

  • Stop the bleeding with a clean towel
  • Keep the injured area elevated
  • Apply a sterile bandage to the wound and change it regularly
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment every day

If and when you seek medical attention, a doctor may further give you tetanus and rabies shots, prescribe antibiotics, remove dead tissue and X-ray the area to see if the infection has spread to the bone. In certain cases, you may receive stitches, depending on how wide the cut is.

Costs for medical treatments add up after you’ve experienced a dog attack and the pet’s owner needs to be held responsible. If you think you have a claim concerning an attack or bite, bring it to our attention today. Contact any of our Connecticut locations to learn more.