Each year, about 4.7 million Americans get bitten by dogs, and the majority of them report no injuries to the medical community. But while dog bites seem common and simple, there are numerous cases where these pet attacks lead to costly and life-threatening complications. As soon as a dog bite breaks the victim’s skin, it is best to see a doctor to ensure that the risk of complications is managed.
One of the most notorious dog bite complications is rabies infection. Though most people have heard of rabies, many associate it only with feral or “rabid” animals. In truth, even pets can have rabies, and there is no immediate way to know if an animal carries this virus – the animal will have to be observed for ten days for symptoms of viral infection.
Meanwhile, the bite victim should not wait to talk to a doctor about a possible rabies infection. Humans need pre-immunization to be protected from the rabies virus. If the victim has not been immunized before the bite, they will need a series of injections to prevent the virus from setting in. Without these rabies shots, the virus could incubate, take hold of the central nervous system, and likely kill the patient.
Tetanus is a nervous system disease that causes muscle tightening, stiffening, and spasms, hence its historical name “lockjaw.” It is caused by bacteria in the soil that could enter the human bloodstream via a break in the skin. A dog bite by itself is not considered tetanus-prone, but it could transmit the tetanus bacteria if there is some soil contamination.
Tetanus immunization is fairly common in the US, but most people don’t really remember when they last got a booster shot. Thus, it is wise to get a tetanus shot right after a dog bite.
Other types of bacteria can be transmitted to humans through animal bites. Common bacterial infections from dog bites include Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and Pasteurella.
Even tiny punctures from a canine’s teeth (such as from playful biting) can introduce these bacteria to the human body. At first, the bite may seem harmless, but if you notice symptoms such as redness, swelling, and pain that last for 24 hours or more, see your physician. Worsened cases may involve joint swelling, fever, chills, breathing difficulties, muscle weakness, and loss of sensation. If left untreated for a long time, bacterial infections can be fatal.
Muscle Or Nerve Damage
A deep dog bite can injure important tissues under the skin, such as muscles and nerves. In mild cases, the victim may feel a numbness, stinging, or a burning sensation, though these will typically heal on their own without invasive treatment.
But some forms of nerve damage, such as axonotmesis and neurotmesis, can result in motor function impairments, loss of sensation, and paralysis. If a nerve has been severed by the bite, surgery will be needed to reverse as much of the damage as possible, though some symptoms could remain after the operation.
Seriously Injured By a NJ Dog Bite?
If you or someone in your family has been seriously injured from a dog bite complication, you’re likely dealing with a mountain of medical bills. Monetary compensation may be available to you after a dog attack since NJ law holds owners strictly liable. In most civil cases, there is a need to determine negligence to assess liability. With NJ dog bite cases, the owner is automatically deemed liable. In New Jersey, we at The Grossman Law Firm can help you find avenues to get compensated. Talk to us today by calling (732) 625-9494.