WHAT KINDS OF INFECTIONS CAN DOG BITES CAUSE?

If you’re attacked by a dog and don’t seek medical treatment, you may develop an infection from the wound. While dogs are touted as having much cleaner mouths than humans, that’s not entirely true. A dog bite has the potential to cause serious injuries and infections.

Infections occur in around 10 to 15 percent of bites by dogs. While that might seem like a relatively low number, the injuries an infection can cause can’t be ignored.

If you’re bitten on the hand or a joint, you’re more likely to develop an infection. Why? The bites in these areas push bacteria down deep into the body where the body has a harder time fighting off the infection.

The first signs of infection to look for after a bite are swelling and inflammation. You might notice the area around the wound becoming red or itchy. Sometimes, there may be pus or discharge. If you are bitten, the best way to prevent an infection is to seek medical attention right away.

Even if the bite seems minor now, it could end up being dangerous or potentially-deadly later. On top of that, there is a risk of additional and serious infections such as tetanus or rabies. Those infections require immediate treatment to prevent their spread. When untreated and symptoms emerge, rabies is fatal. When untreated, tetanus is extremely painful and life-threatening. Without treatment, most people die from a tetanus infection, but a treatment of antitoxin and course of antibiotics can prevent that from happening.

If you’re bitten, your health is at risk. You need to seek medical attention. Your attorney can help you recover your costs after your life is not longer at risk.

Source: HealthLine, “Animal Bite Infections,” Nancy Choi, MD, Amber Erickson Gabbey, Diana K. Wells, accessed June 26, 2017

WHAT ARE THE CUES THAT A DOG MAY BITE?

There are many cues that can let you know that an animal is scared or frightened. There are cues that show one is friendly, excited or agitated. Knowing what to look for when you’re approached by an animal can help you protect yourself and your family.

Any dog can bite depending on the circumstances. For instance, imagine being a dog that is harassed by children. At first, you might back away. Then, you might bark or growl to warn them to leave you alone. After that, you give a warning nip. When that doesn’t work, it’s time to bite.

There are instances where children or people are attacked because of the way they approach or treat an animal. Knowing to look for the signs of a distressed dog helps. For example, if the dog’s tail is down between its legs and you can see its ears down, it may be scared or anxious. Anxious dogs also yawn often and may lick their lips. A tucked body posture should let you know that your dog, or someone else’s, needs to get away from the present situation.

A low posture that allows you to see the whites of a dog’s eyes can mean it’s nervous. Stiff legs could show that it’s uncomfortable. Ears pressed down and a tightly closed mouth may signify that the dog is uncomfortable, too. Happy, relaxed pets have open mouths, perky ears and relaxed postures. They may wag their tails, but that can also signify excitement.

It’s never possible to predict everything a dog will do, but knowing these signs can help you prevent some dog bites. If you are bitten, the owner should be held liable for the animal’s aggression.

Source: WRAL, “Beware of dog: Canine cues often precede bites, attacks,” accessed July 05, 2017

CHILD SUFFERS SEVERE INJURIES FROM TOOTHY FISH IN MINNESOTA LAKE

If you take your family to the lake in Minnesota, you may want to be sure of what’s swimming in the water. One family found out that there are extremely dangerous fish in Island Lake only after their daughter was badly hurt.

The little girl was dangling her legs from a stand up paddle board in the lake when she screamed that something had grabbed her leg. When she was able to pull her leg out of the water, she had been cut in 25 places. She said that she thought her foot had been in a fish’s mouth, but the lacerations were severe.

While most of us don’t think about fish as being particularly dangerous, the fish found in this lake are likely muskies and Northern Pike. These fish have large teeth and can cause serious injuries. It’s not clear if the family had been warned about the potential for these fish in the lake before they decided to paddleboard there. In the past, a woman was attacked by an otter at the same lake, drawing questions about its safety.

The 11-year-old girl had to go through surgery to repair a tendon in her foot. She also had nine cuts so deep that they required stitches.

Cases like this can potentially result in a liability or personal injury claim against the owner of the facility. For instance, if a park doesn’t have warnings about potentially hazardous animals in the lake or dangerous animals in the woods, someone could file a claim stating that the park, its rangers or others were negligent.

Source: Fox 9, “11-year-old attacked by large fish while swimming in Minnesota lake,” July 21, 2017

ZOONOTIC ILLNESSES ARE A CONCERN WHEN YOU’RE BITTEN BY ANIMALS

When your friend’s dog bit you, you went to the hospital for treatment. Your primary concern was to stop the bleeding and get some stitches, so you didn’t think much else would come from the emergency room visit. it wasn’t long until you were being asked questions about the animal’s vaccines and state of health.

Why does it matter? Zoonotic illnesses are one of the reasons why animal bites are so dangerous. These illnesses can pass from animals to humans, which makes them particularly hazardous. As of 2017, there are at least 48 diseases that people can get from bites from animals that have been bitten by certain bugs. There are at least 39 important diseases that people can catch from animals directly.

Some of the common zoonotic illnesses you may be aware of include rabies, West Nile Disease and the Bubonic Plague. Out of these, the most feared disease is probably rabies, even though there are only one or two cases in the United States each year. There are actually several zoonoses that are important due to their severity without treatment. These include rabies, the plague, anthrax, listeria, tularemia and monkeypox.

While these are serious diseases, they’re unlikely even if you’re bitten by a stray dog or scratched by a stray cat. It’s more likely that you’ll come down with an illness like cat-scratch fever, which has the potential to be very serious if not treated. Roundworm is another illness you can catch from pets, although a bite isn’t necessary to transfer worms necessarily.

Zoonotic illnesses can potentially kill, so it’s important to receive vaccinations and treatments to prevent them from worsening. After you’re treated, it’s possible to seek compensation from your friend or his or her insurance company to cover your expenses.

Source: WebMD, “Diseases From Animals: A Primer,” Daniel J. DeNoon, accessed Sep. 01, 2017

BITES DON’T HAVE TO BREAK THE SKIN TO CAUSE DAMAGE

Animal bites can seem insignificant in some cases, but it’s always important to seek out medical help. Animal bites have the potential to cause significant infections and wounds that require surgical treatment.

The majority of bites in the United States are from dogs. When bitten by a dog, most people snap to the concern for rabies, but there are actually many other more likely illnesses or complications you could suffer from, like tetanus or deep infections.

Even when a bite doesn’t break your skin, there is a potential for injury. A bite could lead to crushing or tearing even if infection isn’t likely. For example, if a dog bites down on you and you’re wearing a coat, your skin might not break. You could still suffer from a broken bone or torn ligaments, though.

There are signs and symptoms of injuries to watch for after an altercation with an animal. First, look at the wound. Is there swelling or discoloration? If so, you could have damage to the underlying muscles, tendons or bones. Redness around punctures could indicate the beginning of an infection. Pus is also a sign of infection.

If you’ve been bitten, you could also have nerve damage. A loss of sensation or inability to move a body part could indicate that a nerve has been severed or impacted by the attack.

Not all dog bites result in complications, but many do. It’s important to hold the owner responsible, so you can focus on getting well without having to be concerned about medical costs or other expenses you’re incurring.

Source: OrthoInfo, “Animal Bites,” accessed Sep. 20, 2017

A RABIES PROCLAMATION IS A SERIOUS SITUATION IN ANY CITY OR TOWN

Minnesota has special rules that you must abide by if animals with rabies are discovered in a neighborhood or town. In areas where rabies has been discovered, the state allows the town to require muzzles on all dogs. It also has the ability to enforce leash laws, which prevent dogs from running loose in the city.

The law also states that the owner of a dog who doesn’t get the animal the correct anti-rabies vaccines can be penalized for having a dangerous dog or potentially dangerous dog if the animal later attacks or bites a person. This is why it’s so important to get your dog its vaccines; it protects you from liability in some instances.

What happens in a town or city where a rabies proclamation is made?

In the case that a rabies proclamation is made, your dog must wear a muzzle if it is in the town or at large. This requirement makes sure the animal cannot bite anyone. It doesn’t matter if your pet has a rabies vaccination or not; you must muzzle it. This requirement helps prevent the spread of disease. Rabies is fatal if not treated quickly after infection.

You’ll know if the rabies proclamation is made because it will be published in the newspaper. If it is not published there, you should be able to find it in public places, since the health board is required to post it in at least three public places. The proclamation begins five days after the posting and lasts for up to six months.

What should you do if you’re bitten by an animal with rabies?

If you are bitten by an animal with rabies, you need to obtain post-exposure treatment immediately. Owners who don’t get their animals the vaccines that are necessary are held liable thanks to anti-rabies laws.

Source: Animal Legal & Historical Center, “Minnesota Statutes Annotated . Agriculture. Chapter 35. Animal Health. Chapter 346. Stray Animals; Companion Animals. Chapter 347. Dogs and Cats. Regulation of Dangerous Dogs,” accessed Oct. 10, 2017

DOG BITES INCREASE OVER THE HOLIDAYS: BE CAUTIOUS

Despite the fact that most people’s animals are affectionate, the holidays can bring out the worst in them. It’s hard for pets to adjust to new people and new smells, environments and activities. In some cases, those conditions could make a normally friendly family pet aggressive or even cause it to lash out.

It’s easy to think your pet will do fine, but be prepared to see a whole different animal in unusual and new situations. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent injuries.

What can you do to prevent a dog bite during the holidays?

The key is prevention. If you have a dog, for instance, a good idea is to keep it restrained throughout the holiday events. Whether you’re having family over or taking your pet to a new location while traveling, consider using a cage or having a leash handy to keep your pet restrained. Even if it prevents one aggressive interaction, the precaution is worth the trouble.

Normally, it’s relatives, friends or neighbors of a dog who end up being attacked. Why? They’re around the most and feel most familiar with the pet. As a result, the individual may not be as careful as he or she should be, which leads to dog bites. Additionally, on the holidays, there tend to be more children around, and as they get more excited, pets can become excited as well. Excitement sometimes comes out in dogs in the form of nipping or attacking, because they think they’re playing like they would with their own pack.

Unfortunately, because adults spend more time mingling and less time paying attention to their kids during holiday events, that excitement and nipping behavior could turn into a bite with serious repercussions.

Source: The Mercury News, “Tis the season for dog bites,” Tracy Seipel, accessed Nov. 03, 2017

RABIES: A FATAL DISEASE

From a health perspective, an animal bite is a dangerous injury. Even a minor bite has the potential to lead to infection. In some cases, those infections could be deadly.

One such infection that you need to watch out for is rabies. This disease is fatal in nearly every case; only around eight to 10 people have ever survived this disease without receiving the vaccine after the initial exposure.

While most cases are caused by bites from raccoons, skunks and other wild animals, it’s possible to suffer a rabies infection from a dog or cat. The virus can enter the body through a scratch, contact with mucous membranes or through saliva. Interestingly, ultraviolet light quickly destroys the virus, so things like water bowls or animal bedding won’t pose a risk even if an animal was infected with the virus.

People aren’t exposed to rabies often, but those who are require emergency care as quickly as possible. The wound needs immediate cleaning with soap and water. Individuals may receive a tetanus vaccine along with rabies post-exposure prophylaxis. Antibiotics may also be given to reduce the risk of further infection. If an animal is available for quarantine or testing, then an individual may not need the rabies vaccine unless the animal is found positive for the disease.

In most cases, bites are the only thing serious enough to require post-exposure prophylaxis, but even nonbite exposure could pose a threat. Patients need to be seen by medical professionals promptly to determine if the treatment is necessary. The owner of the infected animal should be held responsible for any medical treatment you need.

Source: Minnesota Department of Health, “Animal Bites and Rabies Risk: A Guide for Health Professionals,” accessed Jan. 03, 2018

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ANIMAL BITES AND TETANUS?

Animal bites involve multiple animal species, but the two you’re most likely to find yourself struggling with are bites from cats or dogs. Bites from these animals are a significant problem in the United States, with the majority of bites coming from cats, dogs and rodents.

While rabies is one potential complication of a dog, cat or rodent bite, it’s not the only thing people need to be concerned about. The wound itself could become infected with various bacteria, and other serious illnesses could result.

Bite wounds to the hands are significantly more dangerous than those to other body parts. Why? The hands have many small bones, joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles that can be destroyed with a single bite. They also harbor bacteria more easily in the smaller spaces.

After a bite, it’s likely that a victim will be tested for rabies. Since this is a fatal complication, early treatment is a requirement. It’s also normal for those behind on their tetanus vaccines to receive a tetanus shot to prevent this potentially deadly disease from developing.

If a person’s previous tetanus shot was five years ago or longer, it’s necessary to give the vaccination at the time of treatment. Others who may need an additional vaccine include children who have had fewer than three previous doses, those with a clean wound and who had their last tetanus vaccine 10 or more years ago and those with dirty wounds and a vaccine more than five years old. If the individual’s wound is contaminated with dirt or debris, tetanus immune globulin may be recommended to provide additional protection.

All these tests and medical needs should be covered by the responsible party who owns the animal. It is his or her responsibility to make sure you get the care you need.

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