Dog Bite Diseases

Certain types of diseases may be transmitted or developed through dog bites. Commonly transmitted dog bite diseases include rabies and tetanus. When a dog bite occurs, patients should take proper care to ensure that dog bite diseases do not occur.

Dog Bite Rabies

Rabies is caused by a virus which impacts the victim’s nervous system. After the initial infection through the bite wound, the rabies virus travels to the patient’s brain and other organs. The majority of worldwide rabies cases develop after a dog bite. However, other animals such as raccoons, cats, and bats may also transmit rabies. If the patient does not receive timely treatment, dog bite rabies can result in death.

Rabies Symptoms

Immediately after a bite, dog bite rabies may cause itching or wound discomfort that can be described as “pins and needles.” The dog bite rabies victim may develop a headache and fever. These dog bite rabies symptoms occur during what is referred to as the acute incubation phase of the disease. After this initial incubation phase, patients enter another incubation phase which may not increase symptoms. When symptoms do arise, they are typically severe.

After roughly one to several weeks, dog bite rabies victims may experience:

  • Pain or unusual sensation in the wound
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Drooling
  • Delirium and hallucinations
  • Stress, tension, and anxiety
  • Convulsions
  • Loss of feeling or muscle function in certain areas
  • Insomnia and restlessness
  • Difficulty swallowing

Rabies Treatment

Ideal dog bite rabies treatment occurs within 12 to 48 hours of the dog bite. Rabies treatment consists of two primary injections: rabies immune globulin and another rabies vaccine. Some experts recommend additional injections on the third, seventh, and 14th days after initial exposure.

Dog Bite Tetanus

Tetanus is also among common dog bite diseases. Tetanus bacteria are often found in feces and dirt. If a dog consumes infected feces or dirt, the bacteria then becomes transmitted to the dog attack victim. Dog bite tetanus causes muscle spasms as the dog bite disease progresses.

Tetanus Symptoms

Tetanus is commonly referred to as “lock jaw,” as patients typically experience muscle spasms in the jaw, among other areas of the body. Other areas affected by muscle spasms may include the neck, chest, abdominal muscles, back, and buttocks. Patients may also experience excessive sweating, drooling, hand and foot spasms, irritability, difficulty swallowing, and fever.

Other Dog Bite Diseases

Other dog bite diseases include a number of bacterial infections from organisms that may be found in the dog’s mouth. After a dog attack, patients should seek immediate medical attention if the skin is broken. Even in vaccinated and domesticated dogs, several types of dangerous bacteria may be present in the dog’s saliva.

Other types of bacteria causing dog bite diseases may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Pasteurella, which can cause severe infection in the tendons and bones of the affected area
  • Streptococcus, which causes the disease commonly known as “strep throat”
  • Capnocytophaga, which can cause symptoms ranging from mild flu-like symptoms to deadly meningitis
  • Fusobacteria, which may contribute to periodontal disease and skin ulcers, among other conditions

Staph Infection

Staph infection occurs when a certain type of bacteria on human skin, called staphylococcus, enters the bloodstream via a dog bite. The staph infection bacteria enter the victim’s lungs, heart, and intestines. Staph infection symptoms may include boils, rashes, nausea, and persistent fevers. Staph infection may also lead to a life-threatening heart inflammation called endocarditis.




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