A dog bite can cause tremendous initial damage. Dogs’ teeth rip and tear, and their jaws can break bones. However, the biggest reason why dog bites are dangerous to humans is due to the bacteria found in dogs’ mouths. While harmless to the animal, these bacteria can cause serious infections in human beings. Moreover, the tendency for dog bites to occur at home makes them especially dangerous to those who let their guard down.
Common Circumstances of Dog Bites
A 2019 study by the journal Heliyon found that over 80% of dog bites happen at home. That means if you suffer a bite, odds are it will occur from a dog you know or in a familiar place. We all know not to approach an unknown dog wandering around the street. Being cautious about petting a friend or neighbor’s dog, on the other hand, can be less instinctive. This false sense of security makes dog bites a risk.
Distressingly, children ages 5 to 9 represent the highest incidence rate of all age groups, according to Heliyon. Children may be less aware of the risks of an animal while also being more likely to sustain head and neck injuries as a result. This makes dog bites especially dangerous to the young.
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The Danger of Initial Injuries
Depending on the severity of the bite, initial injuries can include:
- Open wounds
- Bone fractures
- Torn muscles and ligaments
- Nerve damage
The Heliyon study found that nearly half of bites were on an upper extremity and over a quarter were on the head or neck. The location of the injury can affect the severity and recovery. For instance, a broken arm will heal differently than a bite to the face.
The Recovery Process
According to a 2016 study in the journal HAND, as many as 10% of dog bite victims sustain nerve, tendon, or vessel damage due to the prevalence of bites on hands and arms. More than a third of patients in the study who became hospitalized required surgery. Although a broken bone may seem more harmful than soft tissue damage, nerves and tendons can take time and physical therapy to return to normal.
The jagged cuts dog bites create may also take more intervention to treat. For victims who sustained wounds on the face or to a large area, stitches may be necessary, as well as reconstructive surgery to help minimize the cosmetic damage. Paying for all of these treatments may require pursuing damages through a dog bite personal injury claim.
The Danger of Secondary Complications
Beyond the initial trauma of a dog bite, the biggest concern is infection. Dogs can carry bacteria and diseases such as:
- Staph and strep
Rabies and Tetanus
Perhaps the most obvious infection you can contract from an animal bite is rabies. A pet may be up to date on its vaccinations, but stray, feral, or unknown dogs may have the disease.
Tetanus can also be transferred through a dog bite, leading to lockjaw, a painful condition that causes the muscles around the jaw and neck to stiffen up, potentially disrupting breathing. Symptoms may take weeks to manifest after the bite, so prompt diagnosis and treatment are important.
You may have never heard of it, but capnocytophaga is a common bacteria found in dogs. In certain humans, an infection can worsen quickly, sometimes causing sepsis. A 2015 study in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) estimated that the fatality rate is one third for those who suffer sepsis from the bacteria.
If you were bitten by a dog and one of the following circumstances apply, you are more at risk for a capnocytophaga infection:
- High alcohol usage
- Removed spleen
The Cost of a Dog Bite
While the medical risks of a dog bite vary depending on the severity, location, and contamination of the injury, all dog bites have one thing in common: they cost money. Emergency visits, hospital stays, and antibiotics can be just the beginning. Additional consequences could include:
- Lost limbs
- Reduced quality of life
- Diminished earning capacity
- Reduced or lost independence
- Therapy bills
- Medical equipment expenses
- Prescription medication costs
In short, a dog bite can injure your finances as well as your physical well-being. Filing an injury claim may provide compensation to cover these and other related expenses.
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We Take Dog Bites Seriously and so Should You
The reason why dog bites are dangerous is not just because they inflict wounds. They happen overwhelmingly in homes, when you may not expect it. They can require surgeries and physical therapy, causing lasting damage physically and emotionally. Dog bites can also impact your career, personal life, and financial health.
The Bader Scott Injury Lawyers team represents dog bite personal injury claims in and around Atlanta, helping victims pursue damages to cover the initial medical costs as well as future related expenses. Call our office today to learn more at (404) 888-8888.