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How a dog bite can lead to sepsis

On Behalf of | May 25, 2021 | Catastrophic Personal Injuries

Dogs are seemingly everywhere you look nowadays. In fact, according to the American Veterinary Medicine Association, about 40% of all American households have at least one canine in the family. While many dogs are friendly and docile, others can be unpredictable or downright vicious.

During a dog attack, you may be vulnerable to a variety of catastrophic injuries. Regrettably, the risk to your overall health does not end when the attack does. Sometimes, a bite wound leads to sepsis or even septic shock.

The risk of infection

Dogs have both benign and dangerous bacteria in their saliva and on their claws. If the animal’s teeth or claws break your skin during an attack, these bacteria may work their way into your skin, tissues or even bloodstream. While your immune system may be able to prevent bacteria from making you ill, you have some risk of infection.

The progression of sepsis

Doctors often prescribe antibiotics to treat bite-related infections. If your infection does not respond to antibiotics, though, it may progress to sepsis. Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition that interrupts organ functionality. It may affect your heart, lungs, kidneys, liver or other organs. If any of these organs shut down, you may develop septic shock.

The danger to you

Your risk of developing sepsis or septic shock after a dog attack may depend on your health before the attack. If you have certain chronic conditions that compromise your immune system, you may be particularly vulnerable.

Bite-associated infection, sepsis and septic shock can worsen rapidly. Consequently, if you survive a dog attack, you should both go to the emergency room for critical care and follow up with your primary physician or an infectious disease specialist.