Dog Bite Infection
A dog bite is often the result of a poor decision on behalf of the owner, such as leaving their pet unattended or not properly training it to behave around others.
Are you the victim of a dog bite and developed an infection after being attacked? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates to dog bite victims and can help your family too.
Call a Chicago, Illinois dog bite lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Developing Infections From Dog and Cat Bites
Dog bites that aren't treated properly or left to heal run the risk of developing infections. Likewise, if an infected wound isn't cleaned out properly, bacteria have a greater chance of spreading into the bloodstream and causing serious health complications, including blood clots.
According to statistics, cat and dog bites account for more than one-third of emergency room visits for animal bites each year—more than five million people per year.
Unfortunately, this means that thousands and thousands of dog and cat bite victims are left with the risk of developing an infection from a canine attack every day.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that one in five bites from a dog or cat becomes infected. This rate is higher for animal bites on the hands, head, and neck because these are areas near some of your most vital organs.
For children under the age of five, infection rates are nearly twice as high at 40 percent. Unfortunately, they also tend to have more serious dog bite injuries because of their smaller body mass.
Taking proper precautions after being bitten can help to limit your risk of infection. Even the most basic first aid measures, such as thoroughly cleaning the wound, applying pressure, and elevating it above your heart, can make a huge difference.
Cat and Dog Bite Wounds: Emergency Room Visits
For the management of animal bites, approximately 300,000 visits are made to emergency departments in the United States each year, resulting in an annual cost of treatment in America exceeding $100 million.
The emergency medicine physician will diagnose the victim's medical problems associated with the dog bite or cat attack in severe cases. However, in many cases, the dog and cat bites are so severe that the victims must be transferred to a hospital specializing in treating these types of trauma.
Taking precautions is also so recommended. If you are bitten by a dog, cat, or any other animal, make sure to consult your primary care physician for an accurate diagnosis.
Emergency room visits are much more common in children than adults. Because children are more susceptible to injury, it is important to be especially cautious when around animals. For example, severely infected dog bites or cat scratches can make a child very ill and can at times be life-threatening.
Dog Bites in Children
Young children account for approximately 40 percent of all dog bite injuries. In addition, more than half of canine bites in children occur at the family home or familiar locations.
According to the Infectious Diseases Society, children who are bitten by dogs suffer more injuries than adults. In addition, children below the age of nine years tend to experience more severe injuries from dog bites. A majority of these types of injuries result in permanent scarring.
Dog Bite Prevention for Children
Even though many dog bites could be prevented, it is always best to take precautions against them whenever possible. Here are some tips for keeping children safe around dogs:
- Even if you have a pet, it is important to be cautious. If your dog has never shown aggressive behavior before, it does not mean that it will act the same way if you are unsupervised.
- When children are around dogs they don't know, make sure to supervise them closely. Even with a trusted pet, adults should always make sure to keep an eye on children.
- Remove toys from your dog's reach when you are not around to supervise. This way, if the dog goes after them, your child won't get hurt by an unexpected attack.
- Do not run toward a strange dog. If you see one on the street, avoid jumping around or making loud noises that might scare it.
- Teach your children not to bother a dog while eating, sleeping, chewing on a toy, or caring for puppies. By preventing the dog from feeling threatened in any way possible, you will be helping to avoid potential bites.
- If your child unexpectedly comes across a loose dog in the neighborhood, they should immediately go home and tell a trusted adult.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
Dog bites can be particularly dangerous because they often occur without warning. Unfortunately, many of the dogs that bite people have never shown aggression before.
In some cases, this can happen from an owner not properly training their new pet. In other situations, it may simply be a matter of genetics.
In many cases, a dog's first instinct is to protect itself and the ones it loves from anything that might cause harm. So, when a dog feels threatened or scared, it will react using its teeth as a final effort for self-defense.
Many people believe that if their dog gets into a fight with another animal and is injured, they should not fear that it will turn on them. However, this can be a risky assumption to make.
If a dog has been in physical confrontations before or trained to attack other animals, there is always the possibility of aggression.
American Veterinary Medical Association Recommendations
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), dog owners must properly train and socialize their pets to prevent dog bites, especially critical for children, who are more likely to be bitten than adults.
Infected bites should also be promptly washed with soap and water. After cleaning the wound, it might be a good idea to apply an antibiotic ointment and cover it with a clean bandage (unless you can't get in touch with your doctor within the first 24 hours).
If you've contracted an infection due to a dog bite, you must speak to your attorney. Only they understand the full impact that this has on your life—both physically and emotionally. In addition, a personal injury claim must be filed within the appropriate statute of limitations for you to seek damages.
Capnocytophaga and Rabies
Capnocytophaga and rabies can be serious, life-threatening conditions that can develop after being bitten by any animal, including cats and dogs. Therefore, it's strongly recommended that anyone who an animal bites is treated for rabies—even if the bite wound seems minor.
Capnocytophaga is a type of bacteria that can be found in the saliva of dogs and cats. The bites cause severe infections, which require immediate medical care. If not treated quickly, it can cause severe organ damage or death.
Once symptoms of rabies appear, it is almost always fatal for both animals and humans.
Symptoms of Capnocytophaga include fever, confusion, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Within a few days of infection, it can cause sepsis (when your body goes into shock because of a severe infection) and organ failure, leading to death.
People with infected dog bites are at risk of developing hepatitis B. It is a viral infection that can lead to chronic liver disease or even cause life-threatening damage to the liver.
Symptoms of hepatitis include fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, joint pain, nausea, and fatigue. Some people might also experience dark urine or jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin).
This virus can be transmitted sexually or by coming into contact with the blood of an infected person. It's also common among drug users who share needles or dog and human bite wounds.
If you've contracted hepatitis B after being bitten by an animal, it's important to receive medical treatment as soon as possible; It will help to protect you from developing long-term complications.
Prevention of Dog Bites
Canine attacks are preventable if owners train their dogs to behave properly.
By following some simple advice, you can significantly reduce your chances of being bitten:
- Socialize your dog to a wide variety of people, domestic animals, and experiences as a puppy to teach it how to interact with the world properly.
- Bring your dog to training classes so that they learn acceptable behavior around people, especially children. If you need help, look for local trainers who have experience with dog behavior.
- Spay or neuter your pet to reduce aggressive behavior.
- Keep your dog in a fenced yard or on a leash when outside to protect others.
- Don't run away from your dog or scream, as those actions can trigger a dog attack.
- Feed and care for your pet regularly to avoid triggering a scavenger instinct.
- Don't play aggressive games with your dog, such as tug-of-war. It can increase your risk of being bitten.
- Has your dog been evaluated by a professional if they show signs of aggression, such as growling or making direct eye contact?
- Don't allow other dogs to approach your pet, especially if they are unknown or unfamiliar. It can cause fighting and increase the risk of a dog bite.
If a dog has attacked you, seek immediate medical attention and contact an attorney afterward. It's also a good idea to contact the dog's owner and file a report with your local animal control department.
Life-Threatening Cat Bites
Medical science recognizes that some cat bites can be highly infectious to humans. For example, many cat bite wounds are infected with Pasteurella multocida and Pasteurella canis. For those who are severely immunocompromised, Pasteurella infections can result in a rapidly fatal outcome.
According to a study published by the American Medical Association (AMA), several of seven victims died from Pasteurella infections from cat bites within one year after being attacked. Of the six survivors identified, all received treatment for Pasteurella infections.
Symptoms associated with Pasteurella multocida include:
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing fever
- Chest pain
- Muscle aches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lung abscesses
- Empyema (pus-filled pockets)
Serious infections are usually treated with antibiotics, which must be taken for several weeks. In addition, antibiotic therapy can help people who have had their skin punctured by the cat's teeth or claws during the attack. However, in some cases, hospitalization is also required.
In the United States, about one in three cat bites become Pasteurella infected.
Emergency room doctors reported that Pasteurella infections from cat bites often cause necrosis (tissue death). As a result, the patient requires either surgical removal or debridement of dead tissue to stop the infection.
Patients who are immunocompromised might also require intravenous antibiotics for several months after treatment to prevent future infections.
Life-Threatening Dog Attacks
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and American Humane Society, 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year. Of these victims, approximately 300,000 require medical attention for their injuries, and about 20 of these victims die from their wounds.
In the United States, most bite victims are children between 5 and 9 years of age. Of these victims, about 50 percent are boys, and 75 percent of all dog bites occur to the extremities.
Although some animal bites can be treated at home, others are very serious. For example, if your child suffers a dog bite that breaks the skin, contact your doctor immediately.
Many of the most serious dog bites result in infections, which can be deadly. For example, victims who suffer a deep puncture wound and damage to the tendons, bones, or joints may receive intravenous antibiotics for several days to prevent infection.
Initial treatment of dog bites usually involves a thorough cleaning of the wound. Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent infection if the bite is severe. Some wounds might need stitches, and in rare cases, surgery is required.
If a dog has bitten you, seek medical attention as soon as possible and contact an attorney to discuss your legal options.
How Long It Takes an Infection to Set in After a Cat or Dog Bite
According to the Cleveland Clinic, infections after an animal attack, scratch, or bite usually develop within the first 24 hours. The longer you wait to treat an animal attack, the more likely the infection will become life-threatening.
After a cat or dog bite, seek medical attention immediately. Only a qualified doctor with the best diagnostic tools can accurately determine whether you need antibiotics.
Wounds caused by animal bites are often very difficult to tell apart from other types of wounds, making it easy for people who don't know what they're looking at to miss serious injuries.
If your pet bites another person or an animal, call the police immediately and contact an attorney to discuss your legal options.
An animal attack can have serious consequences for your pet. The cost of veterinary care, criminal fines, and the emotional distress that comes with harming another person or animal are just a few reasons why people who own pets might want to consider purchasing liability insurance.
Statute of Limitations in Illinois for Dog Bites
In Illinois, dog owners are strictly liable when their canine causes injury to a person, meaning that you do not have to prove negligence on the owner's part to seek compensation after being attacked by a dog.
One exception is if the victim was trespassing or committing a criminal act at the time of injury. In this case, you might have to file suit within one year after the incident.
However, in most cases, dog bites are unexpected and occur without warning. Therefore, it's best to seek medical attention as soon as possible to decrease your risk of developing an infection. Prompt medical treatment will also help to expedite your claim and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.
Aggressive Domesticated Housecats and Feral Cats
Any breed or type of house or feral cats (stray) can be aggressive. Moreover, many cats that live outdoors are never socialized to interact with people or once domesticated before being abandoned.
Some docile house cats, especially unneutered males, can be highly aggressive when their home territory and possessions are threatened. They often engage in battles with other cats while roaming outdoors.
Also, beware of barn cats, feral cats that live in colonies, because they are usually aggressive animals that live under difficult conditions. Many are also diseased or carry parasites that can be transmitted to other animals or humans.
Any cat that lives outdoors has the potential of carrying rabies, a life-threatening disease of the nervous system. It is caused by a virus that attacks the brain and central nervous system.
Rabies can infect all mammals, including humans and dogs. However, it's most common in skunks, bats, raccoons, foxes, and coyotes. Although cats usually avoid water sources such as ponds and streams where rabid animals live, feral cats can be found in and around such areas.
Symptoms often begin with nonspecific flu-like symptoms that last for several days. The infected person may have difficulty swallowing, become agitated or withdrawn, and suffer from sensory deficits such as blindness or deafness. As the illness progresses, neurological symptoms appear, including paralysis of the legs and arms, and chest muscles.
If you are bitten by a cat acting aberrant, stay calm and do not attempt to touch or capture the animal. Instead, immediately wash the wound with soap and plenty of water. Seek immediate medical attention, even if no serious symptoms appear after a few days.
Since feral cats are often sick with parasites (such as fleas) that carry disease, it's important to protect yourself by wearing long sleeves and gloves. Also, avoid direct physical contact with the cat and never attempt to capture the animal.
If a rabid or otherwise dangerous feline has bitten you or a loved one, contact our office and speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to explain your rights under Illinois law. In addition, we will help you seek compensation for your pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses.
Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer to Resolve Your Animal Bite Compensation Case
Were you or a loved one the victim of an animal attack and developed a severe infection? Did the accident occur on someone else's property?
The premises liability attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, can ensure you receive monetary compensation for your damages.
Our legal team can hold the pet owner financially and legally accountable for their negligence. Call our law office today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation.
We accept all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits through contingency fee agreements. This promise ensures you pay nothing until we resolve your case through a negotiated settlement or jury award.