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What bugs can you get from a dog bite?

Dog bites are a lot more common than many people in Connecticut might think. As we have noted in previous posts and in a more expansive article on this subject, some 4.5 million people in the United States fall victim to dog bites every year. And of them, 885,000 wind up getting medical care.

Chances are good that more victims should get care but don't bother. Maybe they don't have the money for the care. Maybe they can't afford to take the time off from work. Maybe they don't want to cause a fuss. What they may not know is that they have a right to seek recovery for the physical and financial losses they suffer. That's why it's so important for victims to consult with an attorney.

Another reason a victim might not get care is that they don't know the spectrum of illnesses that can be contracted from dog bites. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a list and notes that about 18 percent of all bites do lead to some sort of bacterial infection.

Rabies is perhaps the best known. It is rare to see rabies transmitted to humans by dogs in the U.S., but it can happen. Rabies is a virus that attacks the brain. It's almost always fatal, making immediate treatment imperative.

Capnocytophaga spp. bacteria are part of the natural flora in the mouths of dogs, cats and humans. Because of that, exposure tends not to be too dangerous to people. But if a bite victim's immune system is compromised due to illness, age or something else, the bug could spread.

A weak immune system could also open the door to a pasturella invasion. It's found in more than half of all bite wounds. A mild infection might be restricted to the wound site, but if it gets into the blood stream it could cause swollen glands and painful joints.

Another potentially deadly bacteria is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. Animals can be carriers without symptoms. If a human is infected it could cause urinary tract issues or possibly fatal blood or lung infections.

Tetanus is something we tend to associate with wounds from rusty metal, but the bacteria can be found in deep bite wounds and rigid paralysis can result.

Clearly, dog bites are nothing to take lightly.

Source: CDC.gov, "Preventing Dog Bites," accessed July 15, 2015

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